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From the Nature Upclose series (Children's Press):
Have you ever wondered how some of nature's smallest creatures spend their days and nights? Here's your chance to take a scientifically accurate peek at the world from their point of view. In each book, the striking watercolor illustrations and lively storyline follow a small plant or animal as it hunts for food, faces its enemies & interacts with humans.
Pipaluk had never seen so many whales. There were thousands of them - all trapped in a narrow opening in the ice. For centuries the whales had provided food for the people of her villiage. Now the whales needed their help.
Based on a true story, Pipaluk and the Whales shows the great lengths to which people will go to save the lives of their wild neighbors.
I am a children's book/natural history author and illustrator, and have written & illustrated about 90 books since 1981. I'm also a "freelance" naturalist who leads trips and lectures and I co-founded a martial arts school - Green Hill Martial Arts. I live in the rural town of Killingworth in Connecticut. My wife Betsy is a potter and High School Art Teacher. My son, Jeff, is an artist and graduated from my alma mater - the School of Visual Arts. My daughter Liz is a photographer. For more information, and pictures, go to "JH's BIO".
published by Downeast Books
This one's for adults and is filled with photos, stories and drawings of
some of my favorite bugs.
Click on cover for more info and sample pages.
Based on a real life groups of kids who rescued orphaned and injured wildlife.
2003 CT BOOK AWARD Finalist
in Best Children's Book Author Category
2003 CT BOOK AWARD Finalist
in Best Non Fiction Category
Frog in a Bog
Peek into a unique environment packed with frogs, bugs, birds, and more. From crickets to muskrats, pitcher plants to moss, take an up-close look at life in a typical North American bog.
"There are several examples in the book which stand alone as essays to be read and re-read, but the book itself is a treasure which won't stay on the shelf very long." -- The Courier-Gazette, Rockland, Maine
A Fall Junior Library Guild Selection!
Eight years in the making... I teamed up with wildlife artist, and friend, Michael DiGiorgio for this project. The book covers 72 species of crickets and katydids found in eastern North America from Canada to Delaware (most are also found south to Florida). DiGiorgio created the plates; I provided the words, and we both captured the recordings of their calls for the accompanying CD (narrated by Kate Davis).
One little hot dog sitting on a chair..."I want a friend to sit with me!" Two little hot dogs sitting on a chair...
10Little Hot Dogs
One by one, more little hot dogs join the group until there are ten little hot dogs on the chair. They play and play until...they all fall asleep. But then, one little hot dog wakes up, and one by one, guess what the other hot dogs do? Humorous illustrations rendered in watercolor and pencil and a playful narrative make it easy for young readers to count these hopping hot dogs from one to ten and down again from ten to one.
"This book will work well as a read-aloud with small groups, though the engaging puppies will encourage closer examination." - School Library Journal
Here's a clip from Weston Woods studio's animated adaptation of Katie Loves the Kittens (published by Henry Holt)! I'm thrilled with the job they did with it. Please bear in mind that the video quality takes a beating when reformatted for You Tube. It is narrated and voiced by my daughter Elizabeth (Lizzie) Himmelman, who is studying theater at University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Katie, a little dog, is so excited when Sara Ann brings home three little kittens that she can't stop herself from howling and trying to run after them. But her enthusiasm frightens the kitties, and she's sad when they run away from her. Don't they know that she just wants to play? Music by Robert Kessler. Directed by Karen Villarreal. Includes bonus interview with John Himmelman.
My first book on crickets and katydids (Guide to Night-Singing Insects of the Northeast) is a field guide - the "how" with regard to getting to know these insects. This book is the "why", as in "why should we?", and explores why these insects sing, and how their songs enrich our lives.
Cricket Radio is accompanied by recordings I made of crickets and katydids in their natural setting. They are available at this website.
Harvard also put together a fun "teaser" site here.
This book is filled with color photos covering most of the families of the Ensifera (crickets and katydids) and is sprinkled with my line drawings.
Okay, now this is cool... A friend pointed me this YouTube video of a boy named Grant Kraus doing 10 Little Hot Dogs in ASL (sign language)!
Okay, you knew this one was coming, right...?
"It's the day of the county fair!
Three-legged races, a “Smartest Pig” contest, the Ferris wheel—what could be more fun? But the Greenstalks’ car won’t start, so they’ll need some help getting there. . . .
Cows to the Rescue is the fabulous new book in John Himmelman’s hilarious barnyard saga. It follows Chickens to the Rescue and Pigs to the Rescue, bringing back the fun with brand new mishaps and brand moo—er, new—problem-solvers."
“Himmelman’s illustrations are such an artful eyeful—snappily colored and gloriously comic —that it is easy to overlook the pleasure of the simple text, a little motor that in many ways drives the whole production forward.” --Kirkus Reviews
"The pencil and watercolor illustrations are packed with plenty of personality and have enough detail to keep kids turning the pages to learn the outcome. Children will, of course, pipe up with the refrain 'Cows to the Rescue!' in group readings and during lapsits, and the mad antics of these friendly and very game rescuers will delight them.” --School Library Journal
"There’s a lot going on out there, and this book is a wonderful bridge to a whole noisy, busy world of insects. Learn who is making what sound, and why. In this book the reader is treated to scientifically accurate, up-close depictions of some very cool bugs. It explains why the bugs make the sounds they do, and how they do it—and it’s not with their voices!"
I got a call from Editor Jessica Haberman at Falcon Press and she asked me if I'd be interested in writing and illustrating a book about critters many would consider to possess a high gross-out factor. I jumped on the opportunity! A day spent painting maggots and dung beetles is a day like no other!
"A surefire hit with young backyard diggers and bug-watchers, Basic Illustrated Guide to Frogs, Snakes, Bugs, and Slugs combines detailed illustrations of bugs, slugs, snakes, toads, and other creepy crawlies with clear and kid-friendly information to help the young bug-lover identify what’s crawling up the tree, buzzing in his ear, or hiding under a log."
Katie is surprised when Ruby, the new puppy next door, comes for a visit. Ruby runs right into Katie’s house and starts playing—with Katie’s favorite things! She even eats Katie’s food! Katie thinks this is terrible, and she he chases Ruby away. But Sara Ann is disappointed. She wants Katie to share. She says sharing is fun. But Katie has her doubts about that!
Frogs make all kinds of weird and wonderful sounds! Allow yourself, and your children, to be beguiled by these amazing amphibians - and be sure to sing along!
Pair it up with the multiple award-winning "Noisy Bug Sing-Along"!
The Greenstalks have the cleverest animals around.
When something goes wrong on the farm, someone is always ready to jump in, and this time Ernie the duck is determined to help out. But no matter how hard he tries, nothing goes quite right. It takes the clever trick of a kind little lamb for Ernie to finally get his chance to come to the rescue! to add text.
From Publishers Weekly: Given all the disasters that befall the Greenstalk farm, it’s a wonder that it’s still in business. In the fourth book in the series that began with Chickens to the Rescue, it’s Ernie the duck’s turn to “help out.” So when the pumpkins must get to market on Monday, duck leaps into the driver’s seat of the vintage pickup truck (“I guess we can turn them into pumpkin pie,” says Farmer Greenstalk of the aftermath). Duck’s attempts to retrieve a calf from the rafters of the barn, babysit chickens, and serve as a scarecrow are equally fraught with disaster—and just as certain to have kids laughing through a week’s worth of barnyard chaos. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
From Kirkus Reviews: Now that the pigs, the chickens and the cows at Greenstalk’s farm have made merry mayhem (Cows to the Rescue, 2011, etc.), it’s the duck’s turn.
In this fourth episode of barnyard slapstick from Himmelman, Ernie the duck tries to solve various problems that beset the Greenstalk farm and in the process makes a delightful hash out of things. He crashes a truck full of pumpkins that are late for the market, has to be rescued himself from the rafters by the calf he has climbed up to save, gets tied up like Gulliver when he babysits the chicks and throws a great shadow-monster against the wall when he switches on the flashlight to comfort a frightened Emily. Ernie’s animal friends feel his pain, and a lamb finds a way to restore his confidence. Himmelman’s watercolors are sure, whether depicting the brewing crisis or Ernie’s inevitable mortification. The artwork also has a comedic clarity that lifts the simple text, enlivening its deadpan humor: “I guess we can turn them into pumpkin pie,” says the farmer, pumpkin shell on head and pumpkin guts oozing everywhere. As in the earlier books, there is a hooting refrain—“Duck to the rescue!”—which will make for a raucous read-aloud.
This well-intentioned duck has a heart of gold to go with his lead foot and ham fist—er, wing. (Picture book. 4-8)
October 2014 (Holt)
Introducing Isabel, aka Bunjitsu Bunny! She is the BEST bunjitsu artist in her school, and she can throw farther, kick higher, and hit harder than anyone else! But she never hurts another creature . . . unless she has to.
This series of brief stories about Isabel's adventures are a beguiling combination of child-friendly scenarios and Eastern wisdom perfect for the youngest readers.
From the author: I co-run a martial arts school - Green Hill Martial Arts and this was inspired by some of our students, including the key character, Isabel.
Praise for Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny:
ink illustrations appear on every page, skillfully balancing humor,
bunjitsu action, and understated grace. Like Isabel herself, this one’s a
winner in unexpected ways." - Publishers Weekly
"Himmelman simplifies his picture-book style with calligraphic black lines and delivers a series of Zen lessons touched with gentle humor." - Kirkus Reviews
"Himmelman tells delightful short stories about a little bunny named Isabel, who is mighty in spirit . . . makes for a good read-aloud." - School Library Journal
Bunjitsu Bunny is BACK in Bunjitsu Bunny's Best Move (Holt)!
She's being called "Everyone's favorite Zen bunny." Isabel is the best bunjitsu artist in her class. She can throw farther, kick higher, and hit harder than anybunny else. But her strongest weapon is her mind.
"This simple, interactive book about the appearances and movements of things that creep and crawl is elevated by its insistence that all creatures deserve to be respected and handled with care."
Beetles fly, frogs hop, and slugs slide over the pages of this book, made to be read by a child while lying on the grass. Children interact with the book, with a tip, tap, and turn of the book, moving the critters along. The critters even interact with each other in surprising ways. John Himmelman brings together his expertise as both a naturalist and an artist to encourage children to explore nature in their own backyard.
A peek inside:
I did the illustrations for this one - it's really a fun book!
Wait Till it Gets Dark (Globe Pequot/Muddy Boots - October 2017)
Anita Sanchez & George Steele
Illustrated by John Himmelman
It’s night. It’s dark. It’s time to go indoors—or is it? The outdoors at night can be a scary place, but this book will help young readers investigate the mysterious nature of night.
A box turtle is born in 1892 amongst now-extinct Passenger Pigeons and horse and buggys. As the years go by, her woods, her home, shrinks smaller and smaller as she bears silent witness to the changes that come with time. Houses appear, she catches moths by a new streetlight in 1909, a bi-plane flies overhead in the 30's, she's someone's pet in the 40's - is released and years later sees the boy again as an old man...
2018 - she's still with us. And things actually turned out okay.
The Giant from the Fire Sea (June 2019, Holt)
So, I wrote a middlegrade fantasy novel! My son Jeff Himmelman, an illustrator and art director did the art.
Here's the jacket blurb:
Jat is a boy who wants more from life than collecting coal from the Fire Sea.
Newton is a misfit giant, cast out of his homeland for his love of science and reading.
Brought together by chance, the two become the best of friends. But when enemy giants threaten to ruin everything, it's up to Jat and Newton to defend Jat’s village, leading to the journey of a lifetime.
It's a Junior Library Guild Selection!!!
Chapter title illustration by Jeff
Here's a teaser book trailer for Albert Hopper, Science Hero: Worming to the Center of the Earth!
Now on the shelves!
"A ribbet-tickling roundabout for armchair astronauts and Magic School Bus grads." ―Kirkus Reviews
In John Himmelman's early chapter book series, Albert Hopper is a frog―and a science hero! He seeks to explore the world and beyond, generating laughs and imparting STEM wisdom as he goes.
Science Hero Albert Hopper and trusty Junior Science Heroes Polly and Tad are ready for their next adventure. This time, they're blasting through the solar system!
As the heroes float through the sulphuric acid clouds of Venus, dodge the solar flares of the sun, and weather the space storms of Jupiter, their science smarts are put to the test. Anything can happen on this hilarious ride in Albert Hopper, Science Hero: Blasting Through the Solar System.