Carmel Valley father and sons produce children’s fantasy book

By Karen Billing

With their new fantasy book, one Carmel Valley family is ready to introduce young readers to a world of spiked and horned Rhinotaurs, goblins and a special little Nibling named Nimpentoad.

The new book, “Nimpentoad,” was created by Henry Herz with his sons Josh and Harrison, and is aimed at children in kindergarten through third grade.

“It’s cool to have a book that you wrote,” said Josh, a sixth grader at Ocean Air School.

A book launch party will be held on Dec. 4 at Mysterious Galaxy Books (7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, 92111) at 12:30 p.m., followed by a book reading at the Carmel Valley Library on Dec. 13, from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

The Herzes will also take part in a book signing at Readers Inc. Books in La Mesa (8219 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa) on Dec. 9 and 10 (during a holiday event that runs from 5-9 p.m.).

“These guys are going to be busier than rock stars,” Henry said of their promotion schedule, which also includes readings in their Ocean Air classes and visits to local farmers markets, as well as keeping up their Nimpentoad Facebook and twitter pages.

In the tale, Nimpentoad leads his tribe of Niblings through the Grunwald Forest, encountering creatures like goblins, Orcs, Rhinotaurs and Neebels. The Orcs are the meanest, Josh said, and the Niblings often get picked on because they’re the smallest and the weakest and don’t have any armor to defend themselves.

The Niblings are on their way to see Goofus, a giant who’s often frustrated because of his size — his hands are too big to do things like wash his dishes or turn the pages of his books that he loves to read.

Nimpentoad and the Niblings realize that they can help Goofus out and, in turn, the giant may be able to help them.

Josh said the book sends a message about the power of teamwork.

“It’s also about finding ways to get out of challenges with quick thinking and also has a message of ‘Don’t be a bully’,” Henry said.

The Herz brothers’ creativity started young.

“When we were little, my brother and I came up with random words and Nimpentoad was one of them,” Josh said, who attributes the invention of Nimpentoad to little brother Harrison, a fourth grader at Ocean Air.

Both boys love to read and are big fans of “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” and anything in the “fantasy ecosystem.” The boys also have a history in entrepreneurship — they have several web-based businesses that include creating LEGO party favors, painted concrete yard sculptures, and custom cast bases for the online game “Warhammer.”

“This is yet another fun project to work with them on, helping them develop good life skills, promoting the book, reading, writing and entrepreneurship,” said Henry, a longtime aficionado of the fantasy genre, who works as a management consultant and also teaches after-school enrichment for elementary school children. “Having the kids involved makes it special.”

While both loved working on the book project, Josh said when he grows up his ideal job would be an architect. Harrison, who plays basketball for the Carmel Valley Stingrays, would like to be a professional basketball player.

“If that doesn’t work out, maybe I’ll be a stand-up comedian.” Harrison said.

Henry drafted the story with frequent feedback from his young co-writers.

“It was just fun making silly words,” Josh said.

The Herzes hired an illustrator to bring Grunwald Forest and all its creatures to life and they love the results. Harrison said they didn’t want the drawings to be too scary but not to “kiddy” either.

On the book cover, Nimpentoad stands on a knotted wood stump, his amber eyes gleaming with a hint of mischief with a fuzzy body, round belly and big troll-like fingers and toes.

“The cover draws you in, it’s so detailed it makes you want to climb into the picture and go exploring,” Henry said.

Henry used Createspace to publish the book and the trio was thrilled to hold the book in hand and to share the story of Nimpentoad with young readers.

The Herzes are all ready to go onto book number two if the first one is popular.

“Nimpentoad” is available online at

for $12.95, as well as at Mysterious Books and Warwick’s Books in La Jolla. View their book trailer on YouTube at