Wednesday 30 May 2012

Book review: Nimpentoad by Henry, Joshua & Harrison Herz - and a guest post!

I'm probably the wrong person to review a children's book, seeing the last kid's book I read that wasn't a reread of an old favorite was probably more than a decade ago. But Henry Herz was offering a complimentary copy of his book in return for some free publicity so I helped him out by tweeting his book and interview. (I'm nice that way, ha!)

NimpentoadNimpentoad by Henry Herz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Written by Henry and his two sons, Josh and Harrison, Nimpentoad is the story of a smart young Nibling and how he leads his tribe through the dangerous Grunwald Forest in search of safety. During the trip, he saves his fellow Niblings from being eaten by goblins, trolls, orcs and other scary creatures.

Nimpentoad is geared towards children aged 5 - 10 years and reads as if it was meant to be read aloud to young children, accompanied by illustrations by Sean Eddingfield and Bill Maus.

I find the Herz family highly creative and descriptive in their writing style. It’s a great primer to introduce children to the wonders of the fantasy genre, whilst being very educational about the benefits of listening (or you may just attract the Forest Goblins passing by), creative thinking (that Pedal Chariot really saved them a lot of time!), obedience and trust (Nimpentoad’s instructions didn’t always make sense right away - but they worked).

Overall, a very interesting read.

View all my reviews

And right now, a guest post from one of the authors, Henry Herz on how Nimpentoad was written:

I wanted to share my love of fantasy with my (at the time), five- and
seven-year old sons. They were too young for watching most of the
fantasy and sci-fi movie classics, and there are only so many good
fantasy books available for that age range. 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? So,
my goal of interesting my sons in fantasy transformed into also
encouraging them to write.

Originally, I only shared the story of Nimpentoad with family, for
their own enjoyment. I had no thoughts of having the book published.
But one day, my sister-in-law suggested that I consider publication
because she felt the story was much better than a good deal of the
books she was seeing for her similarly-aged kids. I thought about it
for a while, and decided to give it a try.

The first step was to find an artist who a) had the skill and style
suitable for our book, and b) was willing to work at a very reasonable
(translation: negligible) price. This turned out to be the most
time-consuming part of our journey.

Once again, my sons were involved, this time in providing art
direction. We would explain in words what each illustration should
contain. Collaborating remotely via email and DropBox, our artist
would give us a rough sketch, and we would provide feedback on details
and color palette. Nimpentoad came to life, while my boys added
another dimension to their experience.

Given the amount of time that had passed, as well as the anticipated
challenges with finding an agent or publisher willing to take a chance
on an unproven entity, we decided to self-publish. CreateSpace has a
fabulous web-based print-on-demand service, backed up by superb
customer service support. We were in business!

Well, sort of. We had a good book, but we lacked readers. So, we
then embarked upon the most arduous part of our journey – promoting
Nimpentoad. Luckily, my boys (dare I say it) are charismatic and
precocious, and are comfortable conducting public readings and doing
book signings.

I have booked my sons as much as their school schedules would allow.
We've done readings and signings at San Diego libraries, elementary
schools, La Jolla YMCA, the New Children's Museum, Mysterious Galaxy
Books, Readers Books, Warwick's Books, and Barnes & Noble. We have
books for sale in Mysterious Galaxy, Readers, and Barnes & Noble, as
well as online at

Nimpentoad has gotten a very favorable reception. We have 35
five-star ratings on Amazon, and positive reviews from several
well-known authors. All these appearances have further enriched the
journey for my sons. They now understand some of the aspects of
running a business, like revenue, costs, and profit.

We've been doing all the promoting and sales ourselves. We would love
to be represented by a literary agent to take Nimpentoad to the next
level, broadening our reach beyond Southern California. We think the
story themes (discouraging bullying, and promoting teamwork,
creativity and perseverance), and the meta-story of two boys helping
to write and promote a book, send positive messages to elementary
school aged kids.

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