The Adventures of Willy Nilly & Thumper is authored by Jim Henry with Jimmy Patterson, and illustrated by Marjorie van Heerden.

Jim Henry

Jim JenrySuccessful Businessman, Committed Family Man, Lover of Adventure

Well known as a successful businessman, Jim Henry has a creative imagination and a love of family that is greater than any business he’s ever built.

Willy Nilly stories were passed down from Jim’s father, who told them to Jim when he was a child. Jim continued the tradition by telling bedtime stories (a different one each night) about Willy Nilly, first to his three children and then to his eleven grandchildren. One night, as Jim was making up a new story, he created the character of Thumper. With this single creative burst, the dynamic combination of Willy Nilly & Thumper was born!

“Buddy Holly composed music to live audiences, and if they didn’t like it, he changed it,” says Jim with a laugh. “So that’s what I did with my stories.” Such improvisation, which also included creating the magical land of Choco, enabled Jim to “field-test” his stories. This gave him a strong feel for the ones that engaged, taught, and entertained children the most.

Jim has now collected the best of these stories and is bringing them to life through colorful illustrations in a series of delightful Willy Nilly & Thumper books.

“The stories are exciting adventures and generally have a theme of helping others, even if it means taking a risk.” says Jim. True to his own selfless and caring nature, Jim will donate one book to organizations that support literacy in communities for every book sold.

Jimmy Patterson

Jimmy Patterson
For much of his first 20 years, Jimmy was a writer and editor for the Midland Reporter-Telegram and continues to provide stories for them since he left in 2009 to pursue the writing of his book, “A History of Character: The Story of Midland, Texas,” which was released September 11, 2014.

Jimmy has completed three novels with Midland criminal defense attorney Tom Morgan, including “Chisos Mountain Sunset” and “An Absence of Principal,” and in 2011 he wrote and published “50 Years: The Story of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo.” Since 2005, he has served as the editor of the West Texas Angelus, the newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of West Texas. He is also the diocese’s former Communications Director and current Media Relations Director.

Named national Family Columnist of the Year in 2009 by the 230-member Catholic Press Association, in 2014 Jimmy was honored with two additional awards for in-depth reporting and investigative reporting by the Catholic Press Association for his stories on the Syrian refugee crisis, while reporting from Jordan in October 2013.

In 2007, he received the national Knights of Columbus-Father Michael J. McGivney Award for Distinguished Journalism for his reporting on the efforts along the Texas-Mexico border to assist the economically disadvantaged residents of Boquillas, Mexico.

Jimmy and his wife Karen have been married for 31 years. Together they have three adult children and a granddaughter.

You can find Jimmy at

Marjorie van Heerden

Marjorie van Heerden

Marjorie van Heerden was born in De Doorns and grew up on a farm in the Hex River Valley in South Africa. From a very early age she loved drawing animals and fairies and people and dinosaurs and children and dragons and monsters and everything. Today they appear in all shapes and sizes in the more than 120 illustrated children’s books that feature her work. Since the publication of her first children’s picture book in 1983 Marjorie has been published as illustrator or writer/illustrator in 33 languages in Africa, Britain, Europe, the East, Canada and the USA.

She and her husband travelled for eighteen months on honeymoon in a camper-van all around Europe, lived for a year on the banks of Lake Michigan in the USA and for four years in a forest high on a mountain north of Athens in Greece. From each of these places Marjorie drew inspiration for the menagerie of animals, fairies, dragons, monsters and people that populate her illustrations.

Since 2003 the Van Heerdens have lived next to the sea in Gordon’s Bay, once again near Cape Town. Their two children are grown up and out of the house and they now have three little granddaughters. Marjorie’s studio is in the loft of their home and she sits looking at the magnificent view over False Bay while she writes and illustrates her stories.

Marjorie tirelessly works for the development of South African children’s book writers and illustrators and in 2003 she started the South African chapter of the international Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). She has won several awards for her work.

You can find Marjorie at and