Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 24, 2021

Book Giveaway: I AM SMOKE by Henry Herz

Henry Herz has written a new picture book, I AM SMOKE illustrated by Mercè López and published by Tilbury House Publishing. It is available in bookstores now. Henry has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States..

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Henry and Mercè.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


“Wowww!”―– Raina Telgemeier, #1 NY Times, #1 USA Today, #1 Publishers Weekly bestselling author/illustrator

“Herz presents a provocative and unique look at the lifecycle and benefits of smoke throughout the millennia. Lopez’s multimedia artwork further illuminates the ethereal nature of smoke as it drifts and dances across the page.”- John Rocco, NY Times Bestselling author and Caldecott Honoree

“A fascinating, refreshing, and beautifully atmospheric take on something often taken for granted. I’ll never look at smoke the same way again!”- Matthew Cordell, Caldecott Medalist author/illustrator

“I Am Smoke is an absolutely beautiful book, where smoke is both poetry and science. Readers will rest, float, and dance along with smoke’s quiet power across time and traditions. I have lingered over its pages more than once, and I’m sure young readers will, too.”- N
Y Times Bestselling author Doreen Cronin

Smoke itself acts as narrator, telling us how it has served humankind since prehistoric times in signaling, beekeeping, curing and flavoring food, religious rites, fumigating insects, and myriad other ways.

Smoke speaks in mesmerizing riddles: “I lack a mouth, but I can speak…. I lack hands, but I can push out unwanted guests…. I’m gentler than a feather, but I can cause harm…”. This rhythmically powerful narration is complemented by illustrations in which swirling smoke was captured on art paper held over smoky candle flames, and the dancing smoke textures were then deepened and elaborated with watercolors and Photoshop finishes. With this unique method, Merce López “let the smoke decide how the idea I had in mind would dance with it, giving freedom to the images.”

The resulting illustrations are astounding, and they resonate with the otherworldly text.


I find the employment of fictional elements to convey facts a great way to engage with young readers and teach them without them realizing it. Fiction can be the melted cheese we pour on top of the broccoli of nonfiction.

Now, there are some picture books with anthropomorphic characters, but I’d never seen smoke treated as a character. And who better to explain the various ways in which people have employed smoke than smoke itself? But I needed an overarching structure. I considered the chemistry of smoke. It turns out that wood smoke is primarily carbon dioxide, ash, and water vapor. Water vapor got me thinking about the water cycle—water evaporates from rivers, lakes, and oceans to form clouds. Eventually, the water precipitates as rain or snow. Rinse and repeat.

Then I considered the carbon dioxide given off by wood smoke. Two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom. Carbon… Inspiration struck like lightning splitting a tree. Plants are the lungs of the Earth. They breathe in carbon dioxide through their stomata. They drink up water through their roots. Sunlight provides energy to split those molecules. The plant forms cellulose from carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, sequestering more and more carbon as they grow. Conversely, burning tree branches releases the stored carbon. Eureka! Smoke has a “cycle” too.


Henry Herz writes fiction and creative nonfiction for children. He authored MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES (Pelican, 2015; Best Picture Book at SoCal SCBWI Editor’s Day), WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY (Pelican, 2016), MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, 2016; Finalist, Foreword Indies Best Picture Book), LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016), CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW (Sterling, 2017), GOOD EGG AND BAD APPLE (Schiffer, 2018), HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS (Pelican, 2018), ALICE’S MAGIC GARDEN (Familius, 2018), TWO PIRATES + ONE ROBOT (Kane Miller, 2019), I AM SMOKE (Tilbury House, 2021), and THE MAGIC SPATULA (Month9 Books, 2022, with Sam Zien).

His children’s short stories have appeared in Highlights for Children, Ladybug Magazine, and elsewhere.

Henry edited three anthologies: BEYOND THE PALE (adult fantasy by Peter Beagle, Heather Brewer, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, and Jane Yolen), COMING OF AGE (Albert Whitman & Co., MG #ownvoices), and THE HITHERTO SECRET EXPERIMENTS OF MARIE CURIE (Blackstone Publishing, YA horror by Mylo Carbia, Stacia Deutsch, Sarah Beth Durst, Alethea Kontis, Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, Scott Sigler, and Scott Westerfeld). He is an editor for Running Wild Press.


Mercè López graduated from Llotja Art School in Barcelona, Spain, and has illustrated for design, theater, and film as well as twenty children’s books for Spanish and international book publishers.

Her 2019 title Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons by Laura Purdie Salas received multiple starred reviews and was named a Center for Children’s Books Gryphon Honor Book, an NCTE Notable Poetry Book, a Kirkus Best Picture Book, and a Parents Magazine Best Kids’ Book.

Henry, thank you for sharing you book and journey with us. Your book is very interesting. It is amazing how smoke surrounds us in so many ways. Things that we know, but rarely think about. Mercè’ illustrations are lovely. Kudos to you and Mercè. I think children will be drawn to reading this book. Good luck with it!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. What a great idea, Henry!


  2. Congratulations, Henry and Merce! Keep rising! (Newsletter Subscriber)


  3. Congrats, Henry and Mercè! (I’m a newsletter subscriber)


  4. Wow is right, what a gorgeous book! Living in CA where smoke has become a daily part of our summers, I can’t wait to check this one out. And Kathy, I do get your blog daily! Thank you for sharing : )


  5. What a unique concept -congrats! I can’t wait to read the book. 🙂


  6. Wow. Just wow. I am always amazed at the creativity of authors, and this one is no exception. I love that Smoke is the narrator and that this book will give readers an entirely new perspective on smoke and its cycle. Can’t wait to read it!
    (blog subscriber)


  7. This is wonderful! As a writer, I am always looking for new structures and ways of getting a message to my readers. This is fabulous, Henry! Thanks for sharing, Kathy. I am sharing, and I get your daily blog.


  8. Love the concept, POV, and artwork! Adding this to my TBR list. Thanks!


  9. Thanks for the great information!


  10. I Am Smoke looks like such a beautiful, lyrical book. So glad I signed up to follow your blog. You’ve introduced me to so many wonderful stories 😻


  11. This looks beautiful & it’s such a lovely creative idea! Congrats to Henry & Mercè!


  12. This is such a beautiful book! Congratulations, Henry and Merce!

    I subscribe to your blog, and I’ve posted this on Twitter.


  13. Wow! This idea is so unique and pulled me to get to know smoke. I’m an email subscriber and shared on social:


  14. Well this sounds like a wonderful book and the illustrations are beautiful. I’d love to get my hands on a copy.
    I’ve tweeted:, and shared:
    I also follow daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks so much, have a great day!!


  15. This book looks so fantastic!! Great work!!! Looking forward to reading it. Congrats.


  16. Wow! The cover itself pulls me in, and the story sounds fantastic! This is definitely on my list to read. Congratulations to you both!


  17. Such an intriguing concept and the art is fantastic! I’m sending up smoke signals to reserve a copy:-) Congrats to both of you! Kathy, I follow your blog by email.


  18. What an intriguing book with amazing illustrations!


  19. What a great idea for a picture book! I am looking forward to reading this. Thanks for the post. I follow your blog by email.


  20. Wow, Henry, this book looks amazing! I’m requesting my library to order it. Love the idea of smoke speaking — and the smoke cycle is brilliant. Thanks for sharing this! (I’m signed up to follow the blog.)


  21. This looks amazing! What a cool concept.


  22. Congratulations! What a creative and clever idea for a story! I look forward to reading it. I shared on Facebook and Twitter.


  23. Love this concept! And the artwork looks amazing! Congratulations on this book. I can’t wait to read it and experience smoke in a whole new way.


  24. Congratulations Henry, this really has a creative feel. Kathy, I’m a subscriber and have shared it on Twitter and Facebook.


  25. I LOVE the concept of this book, how interesting! I will definitely share this on my social media 🙂


  26. Wow, this looks like a really original picture book, both topic-wise and in terms of approach. I bet it will cause readers to think about smoke in new ways. (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)


  27. I’m a massive fan of this book, from concept to completion and right through to the luscious illustrations! Those illustrations were, in fact, the last inspiration that brought a spark to my mom’s eyes as she was dying. She wanted to try painting with smoke, too.

    I’ve tweeted about the book a few times, but here’s the.most recent


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