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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW original art giveaway!

WIN AN ORIGINAL DINOSAUR PAINTING!

Enter for a free chance to win an original signed painting by Benjamin Schipper, illustrator of the picture book, CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW, by Sterling Publishing. The painting of Kyle the Ankylosaurus pirate is roughly 8.5″ square, and was created with Holbien Acryla gouache and Prismacolor pencils on Arches Cold-pressed illustration board. It’s suitable for framing and mounting in any dinosaur pirate-loving kid’s room.

HOW TO ENTER

The winner will be chosen at random from all qualifying entries received by August 31, 2017. To submit an entry:

1. Take a photo of your child holding a copy of CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW. The cuter, the better!

2a. Tweet the photo with the caption: @HenryLHerz My kid loves CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW!

or

2b. Post the photo on Facebook with the caption: @Henry.Herz My kid loves CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW!

Your entry grants Henry Herz the right to republish the photo on Twitter, Facebook, and this website. The winner will be announced on this web page and social media within one week of the deadline. The winner will asked for a postal address to which the painting will be mailed. ONLY U.S. ADDRESSES, PLEASE. Henry Herz is not responsible for damage that occurs during postal delivery.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Captain Rex and his dinosaur pirates sail the seven seas in search of buried treasure. But whenever they hit an obstacle—like a giant shark or pea-soup fog—the crew members are quick to say they can’t overcome. To this, Captain Rex always glares with teeth bared and says, “CAN’T YE?” And, somehow, the crew always comes up with a clever solution. This delightful story highlights the value of one’s creativity and determination in tough situations. It will encourage kids everywhere to think and say, “I can!”

  • “Is there room for one more piratical dinosaur tale on the seven seas? There be! As Capt. Rex and his dinosaur pirates three search for buried treasure, they are beset by toothy megalodons, thick fog, and volcanoes. However, each time his crew declares they cannot do something, the captain glares with teeth bared and murmurs, “Can’t ye?” That kind of motivation can’t be denied, and the dinos go out of their way to think of clever solutions to their seemingly insurmountable obstacles. At last the treasure is uncovered, but when the captain fails to share, it takes a carefully placed “CAN’T YE?” from his crew to convince him of what’s right. With his emphasis on invention over brute force, Herz eloquently models positive attitudes for young readers. Less chompy than the text, Schipper’s art repeatedly softens the storyline. For example, rather than glare with teeth bared as the text suggests, the illustrations portray Rex smiling knowledgeably as his crew puzzles through their problems. The dinosaurs may be extinct but let’s hope dinosaur pirates keep on sailing for arr-ternity.”
    Kirkus Reviews
  • “Arrr, if ye be lookin’ for a rollicking read about pirate treasure and persistence, REX marks the spot.”
    Molly Idle, Caldecott Honoree author/illustrator of TEA REX
  • “A darling book about problem solving and utilizing arrr! gifts. And the gorgeous illustrations are a treasure. Pure gold!”
    Sherri Duskey Rinker, NY Times bestselling author of MIGHTY, MIGHTY CONSTRUCTION SITE
  • “This story will certainly thrill the pirate in your house. Through humor and ingenuity we learn that anything is possible!”
    Barney Saltzberg, NY Times bestselling author/illustrator of BEAUTIFUL OOPS!
  • Gorgeous illustrations paired with a satisfying story. CAP’N REX is tons and tons of dino fun!
    Fred Koehler, author/illustrator of SUPER JUMBO
  • “Pirates, dinosaurs, a voyage to a volcano? Well, shiver me timbers! There be surprise and rollicking adventure within these gorgeous pages. CAP’N REX gives readers a taste of pirate etiquette in this see-worthy treasure.”
    Pat Cummings, Coretta Scott King Award winning author/illustrator of MY MAMA NEEDS ME
  • “Cap’n Rex and his jaunty crew take us on a jolly journey, fraught with perilous adventures. Sticking together and using their wits to overcome obstacles at every treacherous turn, these dino heroes are destined to rake in their fabulous bounty. Gorgeous textures and sumptuous-shaped illustrations help make this book a delight for any young pirate.”
    Joe Cepeda, Pura Belpre Honoree author/illustrator of I, FREDDY
  • “A clever yarn about overcoming obstacles that will have little buccaneers chanting “Can’t ye!” even after the last page has been turned.”
    Corey Rosen Schwartz, author of NINJA RED RIDING HOOD


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Interview with author/illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton

Vanessa Brantley Newton was born during the Civil Rights movement, and attended school in Newark, NJ. Being part of a diverse, tight-knit community during such turbulent times, Vanessa learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment in shaping a young person’s life. When she read SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats, it was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, she includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants all children to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read, so they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader.

For what age audience do you write?

I create for ages 3-8 for picture books and then 8-12 for middle grade.

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is happily called, GRANDMA’S PURSE, written and illustrated by me. It’s been a while. The book is with Random House Publishing and due out in Jan 2018. All about a little girl who finds goodies in her grandmothers purse.

Henry: Grandmas are also known for hiding tissues in their sleeves.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

Simply the love and relationship of grandchild and grandparent, and that we can find out a lot about a person from what they carry with them.

Henry: So true!

What aspect of illustrating and writing do you find most challenging?

It’s always been the sketching for me. Layout out a book is so very frustrating to me. Each time feels like the first, and I approach each book like it’s the first one. Yeah I know I’ve done it a couple of times, LOL!! I really don’t know why, but it’s a little difficult to wrap my head around it. I think that I over-think it too much, and the need to please OTHERS can really rattle me a bit.

As far as writing is concerned, I am dyslexic and it makes it really difficult to come to an empty page and fill it with words. I don’t spell very well and my vocab is very simple, if you will. Not a really deep one, LOL! I have my own way of expressing myself, and as a dyslexic person I have to do it in a way that makes sense to me first. I love to write poems and sing. Music helps me to tell my stories. I also learn through rhyme. Once I get something, it sticks and I am able to use it however I need. This is how most children with dyslexia learn. I really don’t consider myself a writer, but more of a storyteller.

Henry: And a hugger!

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

That we have to power to tell children stories that can uplift, scare, inspire, provoke empathy, cause them to see their beautiful selves, and to be creative — and that is a pretty power, but even more powerful, NEVER EVER LET ANYONE SPEAK FOR YOU!

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Just recently, a book that was pulled by Scholastic called, A BIRTHDAY CAKE FOR GEORGE WASHINGTON. Honestly, one of the most painful experiences of my career in children’s books. No one ever wants to be censored or have their book pulled, but this is what happened, and while it was painful, there was so much that I learned from the experience. I found my own voice and my own stories. We often like to give our characters adversity, but we will have none of it in our own very real lives. The fact is, we love adversity and hard times and frustrations put on to our characters. It’s the stuff that good books are made of. But in order to give your character that kind of magic that makes your readers care and feel about the character, you have to sometimes experience your own trials and tribulations as well. How did you come through the very hard stuff? The whole debacle made me turn in and go really deep. While very painful, much like baring a child. Nobody likes the labor pains, but holding the child makes it worth the while, and that is what this book did for me. I doubt that people would have even heard of Vanessa Brantley-Newton if this didn’t take place. Truly what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger for the journey ahead. It’s time to get busy telling children of color and children period, a different type of story. Stories that give them life.

Henry: You persisted!

What advice would you offer aspiring authors and illustrators?

Hone your talent. Really be willing to stretch yourself and put yourself in a real teachable environment. Learn all that you can from watching other illustrators and reading other authors works – people that have made it. What do you love about their creative flow? Compile that information in a notebook or sketch book. Try adding it to your work. I never had the chance to meet Erza Jack Keats, but I was student of his wonderful work. I put it in front of me and tried to copy as much as I could without copying LOL! I studied his line and how he laid out his books. Still studying him today along with Mary Blair and Fiep Westendorp and a host of others. DO YOU! You bring something special to the creative table that nobody else brings! Stop comparing your beautiful self to other people! They can’t do what you do, and you can’t do what they do. We are looking to see what you are going to share with the world.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

“Thoughts become things, so get busy thinking right thoughts and watch what happens.”

Henry: Nice. I like the related: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you work?

I don’t know if this is a really strange ritual, but seriously music and comedy in my office and lots of dancing heightens the frequency and creative flow. Every single day. Live, Love, Laugh!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Oh this is one of my favorite questions ever!!!!! Okay I would like the power of Manifestation. The ability to make it so! To think about something and see it manifest before my eyes.

Henry: I’m gonna’ manifest myself some pizza and beer right now.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

Langston Hughes because he makes me feel. Maya Angelo because she allows me to see me. Ezra Jack Keats because he’d cause me to do both.

Henry: But, I come in a close fourth, right? 🙂

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Venus because she was love and beauty.

Henry: Congratulations. You are the first author to answer that question with a goddess.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Sing Jazz and cook and laugh, laugh, laugh!

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Here lies a woman who loved God and loved people and they all felt it.

Henry: Anyone who meets you feels it! 🙂

Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

Vanessabrantleynewton.com

Henry: Thanks for spending time with us. I had the pleasure of meeting Vanessa. She’s a hugger!


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Interview with Picture Book Author/Illustrator Karen Lechelt

Karen Lechelt is a writer, illustrator and artist. She was born in South Korea, raised in New Jersey and currently lives in San Francisco. Most of her stories have animals  wearing pants. Making books is something she finds impossible and impossibly wonderful. I had the opportunity to meet her at this year’s LA Times Festival of Books.

For what age audience do you write? 

Early readers (1-5), picture books

Tell us about your book. 

It’s about a young girl who while playing with her toys imagines asking them one simple question, WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOU? Their responses are sweet, silly and unique.

What DO YOU LOVE ABOUT that book? 

I hope readers and non-readers will begin to think about what it is they love about themselves…obvious I know, but that’s what I’m really hoping for.

Henry: Very nice.

What aspect of writing or illustrating do you find most challenging? 

Finishing a story or an idea is difficult for me. Ideas can come to me rather quickly. But completing the idea and the ending is almost always a struggle for me. I’m not a tidy person, and find it impossible to come up with tidy endings.

Henry: I’m a very tidy person, and it’s still a challenge to come up with tidy endings.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer/illustrator? 

To never give up on myself. After a hundred rejections and many moments of self doubt, ultimately it was MY voice (both verbal and graphic) that shined through the massive slush piles and landed me a wonderful publisher, agent and editor. I have to believe in myself otherwise no one else will.

Henry: Solid advice. That, and grow a thick skin!

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer? 

I’ve never been a fan of public speaking…actually I used to loathe it.  But since becoming a published author and presenting my book to over 500 students, children and adults, I’ve learned to enjoy the experience. And reading on the children’s stage at the LA Times Festival of Books is something I never expected to do and will NEVER forget. Also getting my picture taken with Jon Klassen AND Mac Barnett at LATFB was a huge treat for this fan.

Henry: I saw you there. Great job!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors or illustrators? 

I’m too much of an imposter to give advice.  But if forced, maybe I’d say no matter what, just enjoy the artful journey of storytelling.

Henry: Good advice. The artistic road is hilly, so enjoy the high points.

Do you have any favorite quotes? 

Not really a quote, but a cartoon by Jack Ziegler. A man walks into a party and thinks to himself “Yipes! Grownups!”. That happens to me almost every day…not the party, just the feeling.

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you work? 

I don’t, but my dog does. He follows me to my desk, waits for me to turn around in my chair and say “I see you” and then jumps onto the small sofa. If I don’t acknowledge him, he stares through me until I’ve relented. Oh, and I do eat a lot of chocolate, but there’s nothing strange about that.

Henry: “Acknowledge me, hooman! One does not simply work without acknowledging me. It is folly.”

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? 

Having a 10 year old daughter, I have discussed this quite a bit. I would absolutely fly. I love traveling and eating.  So if I could fly I would wake up in the morning and eat bagels in NY, then fly to Paris for a ham baguette and croissant, then I’d go and eat Udon in Japan and end my day in Florence with waffles and gelato.  I’d be a very selfish superhero and happily very plump. If I couldn’t fly I’d maybe like to control the weather. I think I could do a lot of good if I could control the weather.

Henry: If you get too plump, it would affect your aerodynamics. Flying is a lot trickier than it first appears. I wrote a mock interview of Edna Mode, discussing the challenges of flying and other superpowers. 

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I would love to have Haruki Murakami over for dinner because he is my favorite all-time author. I would want to ask him about the inklings and cats and shadows in his books. I would also love to eat with Mary Blair, although technically she’s not an author, but illustrator.  She illustrated one of my all time favorite picture books, I CAN FLY.  Her color, style and creativity are unrivaled. And lastly I would have Charles Bukowski at the table, because I love his writing, but more importantly, I think he would be horribly fun. Either I’d love him or end up kicking him out.

Henry: Wikipedia helpfully offers:
“Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer. His books and stories have been bestsellers in Japan as well as internationally, with his work being translated into 50 languages and selling millions of copies outside his native country. The critical acclaim for his fiction and non-fiction has led to numerous awards, in Japan and internationally, including the World Fantasy Award (2006) and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award (2006). His oeuvre received, for example, the Franz Kafka Prize (2006) and the Jerusalem Prize (2009). Murakami’s most notable works include A Wild Sheep Chase (1982), Norwegian Wood (1987), The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994–95), Kafka on the Shore (2002), and 1Q84 (2009–10).

Mary Blair, born Mary Robinson, was an American artist who was prominent in producing art and animation for The Walt Disney Company, drawing concept art for such films as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Song of the South and Cinderella. Blair also created character designs for enduring attractions such as Disneyland’s It’s a Small World, the fiesta scene in El Rio del Tiempo in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, and an enormous mosaic inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Several of her illustrated children’s books from the 1950s remain in print, such as I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss. Blair was inducted into the prestigious group of Disney Legends in 1991.

Henry Charles Bukowski was a German-born American poet, novelist, and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over 60 books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in the LA underground newspaper Open City. In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife”.”

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

I like the cats in Murakami’s books because they are delegates from another world. When I read a Murakami story I may be entering a world that I actually feel like I belong to. I believe my dog, Mr. Jones, often tries to lead me down a rabbit hole.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Right now I’m really into painting…and chocolate.

Henry: Chocolate is becoming a theme here…

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Lived a long happy life.

Where can readers find your work?

Tell them to check their local library! And if they want to buy it they can go to their local book store, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and the like.

Henry: Thanks for spending time with us, Karen.


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Famous Movie Scenes Recreated Using Cardboard Boxes & a Two-Year Old

I never imagined that parents could have a two-year old AND too much time on their hands. But I was wrong. From Vaiva Vareikaite and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“Sometimes what you need to get creative is just a pile of cardboard boxes and a baby, who needs to be entertained. This is exactly what inspired Leon Mackie and Lilly Lang to recreate their favorite film scenes after moving into their new home.

A young couple with a baby on their hands recently moved from Melbourne to Sydney, Australia, and got left with a lot of spare cardboard boxes. The boxes were a perfect source of inspiration for some astonishing things that were about to happen. Lilly and Leon are passionate cinephiles, so they didn’t take long to come up with an idea to bring most memorable moments from their favorite films back to life, except this time starring their 2-year-old son.

The beautiful initiative to have a quality family time became an inspirational project titled Cardboard Box Office and a source for quite a successful weblog. The adorable couple and the little one have already re-enacted such movie classics as Alien (Bubbalien), Jurassic Park (Goo-Goo Gaa-Gaa-Rassic Park), Castaway (Castababy), and Jaws (“You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Baby…”).”

#1 Game Of Thrones

Game Of Thrones

 #2 Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

#3 Mad Max

Mad Max

#4 Lord Of The Rings

Lord Of The Rings

#5 Batman

Batman

#6 E.T. : The Extraterrestrial

E.t. : The Extra Terrestrial

#7 Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump

#8 Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice

#9 The Revenant

The Revenant

#10 Home Alone

Home Alone


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Action Figures Come To Life

Finally, a use for all those collectible action hero figures gathering dust on the shelf, thanks to Hot.kenobi and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“Japanese photographer Hot.kenobi plays with his action toys and uses photography to tell their entertaining stories. Osaka-based Hot.kenobi creates a universe where box office rivals DC and Marvel comics (sometimes Disney’s Star Wars as well) not only battle each other, but also have some fun in both surreal and everyday situations. Most of his compositions are explosive and feature a lot of movement, perfectly supplemented by special effects and a healthy dose of humor.

Whether it’s Hulk smashing a can of soda, or Spiderman trying to ‘play’ Captain America’s shield on a CD player, these images bring the colorful personalities of unlikely friends and foes.”

Action Figures

Action Figures

Action Figures

Action Figures

Action Figures

Action Figures

Action Figures

Action Figures

Action Figures

Action Figures


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Russian Fairy Tales Brought to Life

As an author of fractured fairy tales, this speaks to me. Haunting recreations of Russian fairy tales, thanks to Margarita Kareva and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“I started taking pictures about 5 years ago, had not even suspected that it will be my profession. Since then, I often say thanks to the Universe for giving me a passion for my life.

I love to read since childhood, and perhaps my love of reading has made me a dreamer and a person living in their fantasies.

And I’m glad that I had a way to play out my fantasies with the camera. It is very important for every person – to have their own way of expression.

My way – is to share photos from a fairy tales. Photos with unusual models, with animals, with a combination of quaint colors.

Most of the photos in my portfolio is a creative photography (noncommercial) because I think it is very important to do something that you really like.”

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

 Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds


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Interview with picture book author/illustrator Benson Shum

Benson Shum enjoys creating and telling stories through animation and illustration. He has worked in the animation industry for seventeen years with various studios including, Sony Pictures Imageworks, DHX Media, Rainmaker, Atomic Cartoons, Bardel Entertainment and Sesame Workshop. Benson is also an Animator at the Walt Disney Feature Animation Studios, where he was a part of such films as Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia and Moana. His inspiration comes from his love of children’s book illustrations, and observation of the little things in life. I met Benson at the 2017 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

For what age audience do you write?
I like to write picture books for young readers.  No specific genres. If I find something inspiring, I’ll try to write something about that!

Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is HOLLY’S DAY AT THE POOL with Disney-Hyperion.  It’s about a little Hippo called Holly, and how she overcomes her fear of the water.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
I hope the readers take away that we all can be brave even when we are scared.  We can find the courage within.

Henry: Ah, my LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH has the same theme.

What aspect of writing or illustrating do you find most challenging?
What I find most challenging when writing or illustrating is when I can’t quite find the story-telling pose for the character, or find the right words to describe a situation. But when you do find it, it’s really satisfying.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer/illustrator?
That’s a hard one. The most powerful lesson I’ve learned from this book is actually after the book was done and seeing how the kids reacted.  Whether through your illustrations or words, to see how a child reacts or attaches themselves to the characters you create is pretty amazing.

Henry: Yup, that’s the money shot.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors or illustrators?
I would say try to create a story with one drawing. If you can, then you are half way there.  A drawing can say a thousand words.

Henry: I’m only an author. Thanks for nothing, Benson! 🙂

Do you have any favorite quotes?
I heard this quote from my teacher a long time again.  He said KISS – Keep it simple stupid.  I try to apply to my work whether when I’m animating at Disney or writing and illustrating.  I think it’s a great idea! Haha. Simplicity is key.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
If I could have one superpower, it would be to fly!  so I can travel the world! Haha

Henry: Free airfare, and very green!

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
I would love to sit down with JK Rowling, Quentin Blake and Mary Blair.  I probably wouldn’t say anything, as I’ll be super nervous, haha, but would love to hear their story and process.

Henry: Wow, some unusual choices. Wikipedia helpfully offers:

“Sir Quentin Saxby Blake, CBE, FCSD, FRSL, RDI is an English cartoonist, illustrator and children’s writer. He may be known best for illustrating books written by Roald Dahl. For his lasting contribution as a children’s illustrator he won the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2002, the highest recognition available to creators of children’s books. From 1999 to 2001 he was the inaugural British Children’s Laureate. He is a patron of the Association of Illustrators.

Mary Blair, born Mary Robinson, was an American artist who was prominent in producing art and animation for The Walt Disney Company, drawing concept art for such films as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Song of the South and Cinderella. Blair also created character designs for enduring attractions such as Disneyland’s It’s a Small World, the fiesta scene in El Rio del Tiempo in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, and an enormous mosaic inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Several of her illustrated children’s books from the 1950s remain in print, such as I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss. Blair was inducted into the prestigious group of Disney Legends in 1991.”

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
Mermaids would be one my favorite creatures.  The idea of a person and a fish, is pretty incredible.  There is a whole other world in the ocean that we don’t know about and I find that fascinating!

Henry: Mermaids aren’t real!? Thanks for nothing, Benson! 🙂

What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I like to paint, sketch, hang out with friends and watch mindless TV!

Where can readers find your work?
At my website, http://www.bensonshum.com, or on Instagram/Twitter: @bshum79

Henry: Thanks for spending time with us, Benson.