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Beyond the Page: Eric Zelz

This week we are excited to feature Eric Zelz, illustrator of Read This Book if You Don’t Want a Story, written by Richard Phillips (Tilbury House Publishers, September 2019). Get to know Eric through fun questions below.

What kind of cheese would you be and why?

I must say that I’d be Stilton, an English cheese, of distinct flavor and scent. I prefer the blue variety. My family claims it’s stinky. In fact, in my house, it cannot share a plate or knife with any other food! Maybe I’d be Stilton because I think everyone, including me, is a little “Stiltony,”: a bit different, interesting, perhaps sometimes an acquired taste, but hopefully not stinky! And that’s OK. It makes life so much more interesting, and flavorful!

If you could live in any other country, which one would you choose and why?

Denmark. Ever since visiting the country two years, when my daughter was living there for a year, it’s rarely left my mind. I love the Danes’ sense of order and community, their social conscious, and all those bikes! We could learn a lot from the Danes, a quiet, peaceful nation, and I highly recommend a visit. And when you’re there, try the desserts, and say “hej” to them for me. Tak!

What is the weirdest random fact that you know?

I’m a space nerd, especially an Apollo 11, Moon landing one. Thanks to Charles Fishman and his excellent new book, “One Giant Leap,” I’ve learned a weird, fascinating, random fact that, in 50 years, I never knew before. “The Moon has a smell.” I was blown away! Mr. Fishman writes: “It [the Moon] has no air, but it has a smell. Each pair of astronauts to land on the Moon tramped lots of Moondust back into the lunar module — it was…extremely clingy — and when they unsnapped their helmets, they immediately noticed the smell.” Astronaut Buzz Aldrin said it was “the smell in the air after a firecracker has gone off.”

Once the Moon rocks were on their way to earth, exposed to air and moisture, the smell disappeared, never to return again. Now that is random, and so weirdly cool!

Tell us one insider-fact about Read This Book If You Don’t Want A Story, my most recent work.

I guess I have a problem with hands. After finishing the monkey taking a selfie illustration on page 11, I realized I had put the monkey’s hand on backwards! Oooops! Thank you, Photoshop!

Also, there’s a little cow included on one of the pages. That’s Blossom, my daughter’s best little friend growing up.

Finally, when working on an earlier book entitled, “Pass The Pandowdy, Please,” I gave Queen Victoria and extra finger! But then, she’s a royal. Perhaps she decreed it.


Eric Zelz

Eric Zelz was immediately intrigued when invited to illustrate a book with no story. Would it be a lot of work, or none at all? Eric’s illustration, design, and journalistic work has been recognized by organizations including the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Society for News Design. He is also the illustrator of Pass the Pandowdy, Please (National Council for the Social Studies/Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies book). See more of Eric’s work at ericzelz.com. Eric lives in Maine with his wife, Abby, and daughter, Charlotte.

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