Local storyteller’s ‘Cap’n Rex’ shares a tale of creativity and perseverance

Carmel Valley children’s book author Henry Herz will launch his fifth traditionally published book, “Cap’n Rex and his Clever Crew” this summer. The fantasy picture book’s official release date is Aug. 1—“Cap’n Rex” can be pre-ordered on and once it sets sail it can be found at as well as in independent bookstores.

Following “Cap’n Rex,” published by Sterling Publishing, Herz will have three children’s books released in 2018.

Author Henry Herz
Author Henry Herz (Roxyanne Young)

Pelican Publishing will print “How the Squid got Two Long Arms”; Schiffer Publishers will release “Good Egg and Bad Apple,” a wordplay book all about food-based puns and idioms; and Familius Publishing will print “Alice’s Magic Garden,” a prequel to “Alice in Wonderland.”

Herz is a children’s book author thanks to a “mid-life epiphany”— by trade he is a process improvement engineer. He first got into writing children’s books in 2011 when he self-published the fantasy book “Nimpentoad,” which he wrote with his young sons, Josh and Harrison.

“I wrote the first book as way to get my kids into reading fantasy, my favorite genre,” Herz said. “It ended up turning into more.”

After he self-published the first book, he was bit by the writing bug and they self-published three more books together. Going out on his own, he found publishers for his next four books — Pelican Publishing put out “Little Red Cuttlefish,” “When you Give an Imp a Penny” and “Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes.” “Mabel and the Queen of Dreams” was published by Schiffer Publishers.

“They’re teenagers now and I’m off and running doing it on my own,” Herz said. “It’s an unpredictable career. I hope to keep honing my craft and be the best writer I can be and keep putting out great work. I like my day job and luckily, I can do both.”

Typically authors submit ideas to publishers and then wait for a response — to Sterling, Herz had originally submitted a rhyming picture book about a yeti and some spaghetti. Sterling responded that they really liked the story but had done too many monster books lately. Herz saw an opportunity to pitch his tale about Cap’n Rex, a pirate dinosaur. Herz liked dinosaurs and he liked pirates — he thought putting them together made for the ultimate combination, like peanut butter and chocolate. Sterling agreed and acquired the story.

“I snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat,” Herz said.

In the book, Rex commands a four-dinosaur crew looking for treasure. The crew hits many obstacles on their journey, from pea soup fog or giant sharks. Whenever they come across an obstacle, the crew always thinks can’t do it. Cap’n Rex always responds, “Can’t ye?”

With a “big, sharp-teeth smile,” he helps his crew come up with a clever way to solve their problem.

“It encourages creativity and perseverance in young readers,” Herz said. “When you encounter obstacles, sometimes you see difficulties, but there’s almost always a way around it.”

Herz said he is getting used to the book publishing business and learning to be patient with a process that can be lengthy. Once a story is acquired, the publisher has to find an illustrator, go through the process of illustrating and editing and building a marketing plan. It can sometimes be a two-year process, but Herz said it is always worth the wait.

“There is nothing like the feeling of something that you’ve written and worked on for hundreds of hours show up in a hard-bound book,” Herz said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Herz has two local book readings and signings scheduled for the coming months. On Saturday, Aug. 19, he will be at Barnes & Noble in Mira Mesa at 11 a.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 10 he will be at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore at 3:30 p.m.

To learn more about “Cap’n Rex,” visit