Today we have another adorable picture book by Henry Herz. I’ve featured his previous books on this blog before so I’m happy to shine a spotlight on his latest, Cap’N Rex and His Clever Crew!
Read on to know more about the book and check out a short interview with the author to know more about his inspiration for the book, and other things.
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!”
Interview with Henry Herz
How did you start as a writer?
When my sons were five and seven years old, I wanted to share my love of fantasy with them. Struck by inspiration one day, I came up with a way to share the joy of entering the magical realms of fantasy. I would write a fantasy book for them.
What I did not anticipate was that my boys would give me feedback on the story. They devised some of the character (Nimpentoad) and creature (Neebel) names, and made plot line suggestions. And who better to help make the story appealing to kids than other kids? We were sufficiently encouraged by feedback, that we decided to self-publish.
My sons also helped with the art direction. Our artist would give us a rough sketch, and we would provide feedback on details and color palette. My goal of interesting my sons in fantasy transformed into encouraging them to participate in the creative process. In the end, it was a great experience for my sons, and I discovered that I loved to write children’s fiction.
How did you come by the idea for the book?
I thought it would be fun to do a mashup – a combination of unlikely elements. In fact, my original title was DINOSAUR SPACE PIRATES! But it became clear as I worked on the manuscript that mashing up three ideas was one idea too many. Kids love dinosaurs, and they love pirates. So, they must REALLY love a book featuring dinosaur pirates, right?
What’s your favorite thing about writing and/or writing books for kids?
The fame and fortune! Seriously, I write fantasy and science fiction for kids because (a) it’s fun and challenging at the same time, and (b) I think those genres are particularly powerful ways to spark a child’s imagination and plant the seed for a lifelong love of reading. I still remember to this day escaping into the magical world of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE in my elementary school library. And if I’m doing my job as a writer, the books will have a secondary appeal to the little kid inside all adult readers. I still love picture books, and so should you! Check out JOURNEY by Aaron Becker to see what I mean.
Who is your favorite writer/author?
That is a Sophie’s Choice of a question. There are a ton of immensely talented children’s authors and illustrators out there. I can’t list them all, but here are a few amazing ones: Sophie Blackall, Jon Klassen, Deborah Underwood, Bruce Coville, Deborah Freedman, Peter Reynolds, Molly Idle, Kenard Pak, Yuyi Morales, John Rocco, Doreen Cronin, William Joyce, Antoinette Portis, Richard Peck, Marla Frazee, and many, many others!
What’s your advice to writers and readers?
The short version is: hone your craft and be persistent.
The longer version is my article “Be an Animal to Write a Picture Book” at https://henryherz.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/be-an-animal-to-write-a-picture-book/
Where can we learn more about your books?
Reviews of the book:
“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
“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
“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
About the Author
Henry Herz writes fantasy and science fiction for children. He is represented by Deborah Warren of East/West Literary Agency. He and his sons wrote MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES (Pelican, 2015), WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY (Pelican, 2016), MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, 2016), LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016), CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW (Sterling, 2017), GOOD EGG & BAD APPLE (Schiffer, 2018), and HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS (Pelican, 2018).
Henry and his sons have also indie-published four children’s books. NIMPENTOAD reached #1 in Kindle Best Sellers large print sci-fi & fantasy, and was featured in Young Entrepreneur, Wired GeekDad, and CNN. BEYOND THE PALE featured short stories by award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors Saladin Ahmed, Peter S. Beagle, Heather Brewer, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, Gillian Philip & Jane Yolen, and reached #2 in Amazon Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Anthologies.
Henry is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). He participates in literature panels at a variety of conventions, including San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon. Henry reviews children’s books for the San Francisco Book Review and the San Diego Book Review.