Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 9, 2021

Book Giveaway: JACK HORNER, DINOSAUR HUNTER! by Sophia Gholz

Sophia Gholz has written a new picture book, JACK HORNER, DINOSAUR HUNTER! , Illustrated by David Shepard and published by Sleeping Bear Press. SBP 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 Sophia and David.

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!


When Jack Horner was a child, nothing fascinated him more than fossils. Dinosaur fossils to be exact. He hunted for them at every chance he got and dreamed of being a great paleontologist. But school was hard, reading was even harder, and he struggled to succeed like the other kids in his classes. Jack persevered, finding his own way to success, until he became one of the world’s most famous paleontologist, immortalized in Hollywood movies and known as Jack Horner: Dinosaur Hunter!


While researching another topic, I came across a couple quotes about dinosaurs that piqued my interest. When I clicked the link to learn more, I began reading about a paleontologist named Jack Horner. I always loved the Jurassic Park novels (and films), but had no idea the main character was inspired by a real person. As I read more and more, the most fascinating part to me wasn’t that Jack helped change the world’s perception of dinosaurs or his connection to Jurassic Park, it was how he’d gotten there.

Jack has severe dyslexia, and he grew up in a time when dyslexia wasn’t widely known or discussed. Despite being incredibly intelligent, he struggled in school and even failed classes. Yet, here was a person who pursued his dreams regardless of those struggles. He aged, fought in Vietnam, worked other jobs, but never gave up on his truest passion: hunting for dinosaurs.

As a young teen, I struggled in school. I was diagnosed with debilitating obsessive-compulsive disorder. Eventually, I left traditional school and attended an alternative learning institution. I felt different and broken. When I read Jack’s history, I thought how nice it would have been to know in those younger moments of mine, that you can take a different path and still end up where you want to be in life. That’s when I began drafting. 

I wrote the first rough draft of Dinosaur Hunter in 2017 and reached out to Jack soon after. I hoped he would be willing to talk and possibly answer a few key questions. I hit “send” on the email and panicked as I waited for a response. I realized then just how much I wanted to write this book. So, you can imagine how I freaked out when Jack responded with a very friendly email and happily answered my questions.

But over the months that followed, a few big things occurred: 1) I sold my first book, The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng. 2) My agent and I parted ways as she abruptly left the industry. 3) My father was fatally injured in an accident. As the world spun wildly around me, I set Jack’s manuscript—all my manuscripts, actually— aside and took time away.

For about a year, Jack’s story continued to stomp around in my mind. When I finally came back to writing again, I dove into Dinosaur Hunter. In late 2018, I finally had a draft ready to share and submitted it to the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature. At the RUCCL conference, I was paired with an agent named Liza Fleissig. That was life changing. Liza was kind, brilliant and supportive. I was ecstatic to sign with the Liza Royce Agency the following month and Dinosaur Hunter was on submission shortly thereafter.

I could not have been more thrilled when I heard that Sarah Rockett at Sleeping Bear Press fell in love with Dinosaur Hunter. Sarah and the team at Sleeping Bear are such a joy to work with. Still, as an author who typically runs on the anxious side, it’s nail-biting for me to view a first round of sketches. But it was clear from the start that Dave Shephard was the perfect illustrator for this book. Dave’s first round of character sketches blew me away. His colors and comic book style brought so much energy and excitement to each page.

But like Jack’s story itself, this book didn’t have a fully straightforward publishing path. The manuscript sold just before the pandemic. I naively thought things would surely subside by the time this release date rolled around. But it quickly became evident that the opposite was true. Like everything else in the world, the publishing industry has been impacted by Covid19. Supply chain issues led to pushed release dates and delays. But finally, four years after my first draft, I held a printed copy of Jack Horner, Dinosaur Hunter! in my hands….and cried, of course.

Jack didn’t overcome dyslexia, he learned to work with it and thrive. His story wasn’t straightforward or traditional and that’s the best part because most of our stories aren’t. I think it’s important for kids to see themselves in books. We so often expect kids to fit into a certain box and pattern. But for many people, that box isn’t the right shape. I hope that Jack Horner, Dinosaur Hunter! shows kids it’s both possible and okay to make your own way in the world.


Sophia Gholz is an award-winning children’s book author, music lover, magic seeker and avid reader. She enjoys writing fiction with humor and heart. When writing nonfiction, she pulls on her love of science and her strong family background in ecology. Since 2017, Sophia has helped oversee the Henry L. Gholz SEEDS National Field Trip Endowment for The Ecological Society of America, funding ecological field experiences for students from diverse backgrounds. She is also a founding board member of, a nonprofit organization focused on early literacy initiatives. Previously, Sophia worked as an advertising copywriter and made a career working with visual artists in New York City. Sophia’s debut book, The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng, received the Florida State Book Award Gold Medal, a Eureka! Nonfiction Honor Award and was named a 2020 Green Earth Honor Book. When she’s not writing from her home base in Florida, you can find Sophia reading, visiting schools or exploring the great outdoors with her family.

For more, visit Sophia at:




Facebook Author Page


In around 2000 (I can’t bring myself to say early noughties) Wow! I went digital. Up until this moment I had painted most everything, which I loved. It has to be said, the learning curve was about as much fun as hitting yourself in the face with the sole of a golf shoe. But once I got going, well, a whole world opened up. Not only could I draw characters but I could animate them, make 3D models of them, have them talk, run, skip, BLOW THEM UP! So I joined a design agency for several thoroughly enjoyable years doing exactly that. This was far cry from what I was used to. Suddenly it was all clean chrome and the gentle hum of Macs, the only smell; coffee and whiteboard markers. This was the first time as a creative I had worked as a team and it was incredibly inspiring. It also gave me a significant insight into employing creatives and how to forge really strong and successful working relationships with both clients and artists. I suddenly knew what it was to be on the other end of the phone, what people actually wanted from me!

Curiously, over the years, I found myself more and more drawn to working on imagery for young children and teenagers. This, no doubt, has a lot to do with having children of my own, but also has a lot to do with rediscovering that sitting in a tree house, sucking your thumb and playing with Lego is pretty hard to beat. Yep! Latent regression. Never fight it.

So I left the agency world and threw myself a world of children’s illustration which in turn has led me to the door of Vicki and her team at Bright and a new and really exciting chapter.

These days I work from home in Sussex with my wife, son and cat Dillweed. I’m stuffed in my attic studio, away from the public gaze but with a cracking view of the Norman castle next door and a plate of biscuits in arms reach. I have a clean chrome section and a right royal bomb site of acrylics, watercolours and ink at the other end.


Sophia, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I am so happy you ran across this real-life while researching another topic. This book will give children with disabilities a chance to believe they can over come and be successful in life. Teachers will love providing this book and kids and their parents will want to read about Jack. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Congratulations Sophia! I look forward to reading your newest book!!


  2. No need to add my name–I loved this book too!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!


  3. Kids who love dinosaurs and looking for fossils, will love this book. The illustrations are wonderful. Enjoy reading your path to publishing! So glad your book is out in the world now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Patricia!


  4. I’ve been so excited to read this book and had absentmindedly lost track of its release date amidst my own project deadlines. So happy to be reminded here on Writing and Illustrating that JACK HORNER DINOSAUR HUNTER is now out in the world! I met Jack briefly years and years ago when I was a design student at Montana State U. Congratulations, Sophia and David, and thanks for bringing Jack’s story to life for this generation of young people and those to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on this wonderful book, Sophia. I loved this interview, learning a bit more about the journey of JACK HORNER, DINOSAUR HUNTER! and even more about the author.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Laura!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this book–it’s a fascinating for kids interested in dinosaurs–and that’s just about all kids!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ellen!


  7. I loved that Jack overcame his dyslexia and pursued his passion for dinosaurs. Kids and kids at heart will enjoy learning about him. I am an email subscriber and shared:


  8. This sound like an excellent book for kids who like dinosaurs, and there are a lot of them! I’d love to have a copy , thanks for the chance to win it.
    I’ve tweeted:, and shared:
    I also follow daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, have a great weekend!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. OMG what a fantabulous book! My dinosaur loving heart is beating fast 🙂 Best of luck to you all!


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