Today of Paws4Thought we welcome picture book author Henry Herz. Henry earned an engineering BS from Cornell University, an engineering MS from George Washington University, and a political science MA from Georgetown University – none of which help him write picture books. Aided by his two sons, Henry authored the picture books MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES and WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY. He’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Henry hosts a blog on KidLit, fantasy, and science fiction at http://www.henryherz.com.
When did you first start writing, Henry?
I self-published my first children’s book in 2011, and have been writing ever since.
What was your favorite book as a child?
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak. “We’ll eat you up, we love you so!” (Love that one too – it was a staple in my house when my kids were small. DMK)
Tell us a bit about your new release, When You Give an Imp a Penny.
Before you lend an imp a penny, there’s something you should know—such a simple act of generosity could set off a side-splitting chain of events! A colorful picture book full of mythology, mischief, and magic, WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY shows us just what happens when an accident-prone—but well-intentioned—imp comes along asking for favors! The same writer/illustrator duo that brought you MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES brings to life a comedy of fabled proportions.
From tracking mud on the floor to setting the broom on fire, this clumsy little imp causes accidents wherever he goes, but he’s determined make things right again. The only thing it will cost his host is a little patience—and maybe a bit of time cleaning up some messes! It won’t be long before this troublemaker has won over the entire family (except for the cat) with his irrepressible charm.
What attracts you to writing for children?
Fantasy is my favorite genre, so I like the idea of hooking kids on fantasy, the way I got hooked by WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and LORD OF THE RINGS. I feel like my picture books can serve as a the gateway as kids mature to the fabulous fantasy novels written by Tolkien, Lewis, Riordan, Zelazny, Hearne, Sanderson, Martin, Pratchett, Hobb, Stiefvater, Caine, Novik, and many others.
So what’s next? What are you currently working on?
After WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY, I have three more picture books scheduled for publication. LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016) is an aquatic retelling of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD, but with a sassy cephalopod protagonist. MABEL & THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, 2016) is a bedtime picture book inspired by Mercutio’s soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet. Little Mabel was an expert at not going to sleep. But Mom had the Queen of Dreams in her quiver of bedtime tales. The Queen paints children’s dreams, so she only visits when their eyes are closed. DINOSAUR PIRATES (Sterling, 2017) is a comical mashup of two kid favorites. A T-rex with a piratey patois!? Cap’n Rex leads his dinosaur pirates in search of booty. As they encounter obstacles in their quest, the apex predator “encourages” his crew to think outside the box. When the treasure is found, Cap’n Rex wants to keep it for himself, but the clever crew turns the tables on him.
I’m always writing and submitting new picture books. I have high hopes for NEVER FEED A YETI SPAGHETTI and for a story with a dung beetle protagonist. (That sounds like a whole heap of fun! DMK)
What do you like to do to relax?
What does “relax” mean? Seriously, I like hanging out with friends and reading… fantasy! For turning off the brain, nothing works better than watching TV. Working in the yard is also very relaxing and gratifying.
I’m thrilled to be moderating a children’s literature panel at WonderCon in Los Angeles on March 26. The panelists will be award-winning authors and illustrators Bruce Hale (CLARK THE SHARK), Jon Klassen (THIS IS NOT MY HAT), Laura Numeroff (IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE), and Dan Santat (THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE: THE UNIMAGINARY FRIEND), and Antoinette Portis (WAIT).
If you could choose a superpower what would you choose?
Mystique from X-Men can mimic the apperance, voice, and abilities of humans and animals. So, that’s like multiple superpowers (flying, sonar, breathing underwater, night vision, camouflage, regrow severed limbs, etc.) for the price of one!
Ninjas or Pirates?
That is not a black and white choice. What about Ninja Pirates!? Ooh, that’s a good picture book idea…
How can readers and parents connect with you?