Books by Roger Roth

THE ROLLER COASTER KID by Mary Ann Rodman
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 5, 2012

"This gentle book provides a good starting point for conversations about death and how people react to it. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Life can be like a roller coaster. Read full book review >
VOYAGE TO THE PHAROS by Sarah Gauch
ADVENTURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

It's not often that the youngest readers have the opportunity to get swept away on a heart-pounding adventure, but this fictional voyage delivers just that. Set more than 2,000 years ago in ancient Greece, this tale features a brave young boy, Dino, who has been begging his father, a ship's cook, to let him come along. He especially wants to see the Pharos lighthouse in Alexandria, Egypt, one of the tallest buildings in the world. Finally his father lets him come, even though it's early in the season, when gales are common. When the inevitable storm lands, one wonders why his father would put Dino in harm's way, but hey, things were probably a little different back then, and the ship prevails. Roth's sweeping, painterly landscapes, aerial views and dramatic close-ups of the windblown characters add a classically cinematic touch. Innocent and simple enough for younger audiences with plenty of suspense for the older set. Get some popcorn and give those kids a break from Pixar. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2009

The subtitle's reference to "brownies with sprinkles" puts an unfortunately saccharine spin on this otherwise heartfelt collaboration, in which Friedman and Roth draw upon their experience as adoptive parents in this story about Cassidy-Li, an adopted Chinese-American girl. The first-person account, which often assumes a more mature perspective than her kindergarten age suggests, is prompted when Cassidy-Li is named "Star of the Week," inviting her to share something special about herself with her class. Despite a later revelation that others' questions about adoption sometimes make her uncomfortable, Cassidy-Li tells her adoption story with a photo-collage poster of friends, pets, family and other children from the same orphanage. "But something is missing," she says as she realizes the absence of photos of her birthparents. After recalling conversations about them and their possible reasons for choosing adoption (which problematically never acknowledge China's One Child Law), Cassidy-Li draws a picture of them for her poster. Roth's art has a naïve quality for this illustration, but his pictures are otherwise realistic paintings of Cassidy-Li at home, in school and of the photos themselves. Worthwhile, despite minor flaws. (Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 22, 2006

Armstrong approaches history as a storyteller, and each of these stories is a gem of clear and concise writing. Readers are encouraged to find patterns and themes in the tales, and the section called "Story Arcs" serves as a guide. "Black History and Civil Rights," for example, includes accounts of Thoreau, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Thurgood Marshall and Rosa Parks. Intended more as a "patchwork quilt of history" than a comprehensive or traditional time line, the volume ranges far and wide, with witch trials and monkey trials, hoaxes and curses, whale attacks, balloon rescues, Lizzie Borden and Pac-Man. The abundant full-color art is lively and essential to the great visual appeal of the volume. The superb bibliography contains a big mix of histories for children and adults. Young history buffs will enjoy dipping into this fine collection, and parents and teachers will find it an invaluable resource. (introduction, index) (Nonfiction. 7+)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

In the fourth offering in the Unsolved Mystery from History series, the curious little girl invites readers to 1692 and Salem, Massachusetts, to examine the hysteria of the witch-hunts. An extremely simple narrative about the Parris family, their slave, Tituba, and the fear and frenzy that surrounded them is augmented by the young sleuth's rather grown-up spiral-notebook asides. Definitions specific to this particular inquiry are offered on multicolored Post-it notes that seem to be laid atop Roth's grim watercolor-and-pencil illustrations. Finally, the authors offer five hypothetical causes for the terror of the Salem Witch Trials (ranging from ridiculous to reasonable), but none is identified as "correct." Rather, they suggest that the reader may have developed a theory of his or her own. Web sites mentioned are viable but aimed at older readers, and the bibliography is meant for adults. While this may have lots of appeal for the nascent investigator, it may be less than satisfying for young historians, who will wonder how Yolen and Stemple know what they say they know. (Picture book. 7-10)Read full book review >
STINK SOUP by Jill Esbaum
by Jill Esbaum, illustrated by Roger Roth
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 8, 2004

Spending a week at Granny's is not Annabelle's idea of fun for two reasons: she has to be in charge of making her little brother, Willie, behave and she has to help Granny put up mountains of tomatoes. Annabelle can't stand doing either thing because she hates tomatoes—and Willie and trouble go together like biscuits and gravy. When he drives the hay bale cart pulled by Chester the goat into the pond, or lassoes chickens, or climbs the windmill, Granny doesn't see his mischief-making and blames Annabelle. When Granny sends Willie to the cellar with eggs, he doesn't close the cellar doors and a polecat gets in and they all get skunked. Granny makes "stink soup" as the only remedy to rid them of the smell, and the tomato bath saves the day for everybody. The realistic illustrations salt-and-pepper the saucy tale with wry humor, comeuppance, and down-home flavor. Amusing. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2003

A gimmicky "mystery from history" is presented with the true detective work leached out of it and replaced with a phony framework meant to simulate clue-tracking. A frame story presents a girl who turns her enjoyment of the detective work of history to the lost colony of Roanoke. The subsequent narrative tells the story of the colonists, accompanied by full-bleed illustrations overlaid with mock notepaper explaining details and faux sticky-notes that randomly define terms—"destination" and "vicinity," for instance, but not the much more difficult "politics." The true shame of this effort, however, is that there is no attempt to reveal what is really exciting about history: how we know about the few details we have. This narrative is followed by a listing of five hypotheses varying from plausible to mystical, inviting readers to form their own. If the reader does, however, it is not because the preceding work has given her any idea how to formulate such a speculation. As an account of the lost colony, this is adequate; as a true mystery from history, it misses the boat. (bibliography, Web sites) (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2001

In the early 1920s, newspapers throughout the world reported on two orphaned girls in a village in India who, it was alleged, had been raised by wolves. The journal of the missionary who claimed to have found them provided the "eyewitness" account, although it was written after the fact. How likely is his story? Historians have several clues and theories, but no answers. In the same format as Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery from History (not reviewed), Yolen and Stemple present this "unsolved mystery" as the research of a detective's daughter going through her father's files. On each spread, the main narrative (in a framed buff-colored box) is accompanied by glossary terms (on "post-it" sized boxes) and notes from Singh's journal or historical notes (on lined notebook paper). Each of these items "floats" over Roth's double-page, realistic illustrations—in muted watercolor-and-pencil tones—of a scene from the narrative. The "sleuthing" effect works generally well, although it's occasionally sloppy: one "note" explains something from a previous page; a glossary term appears visually before its place in the narrative; some glossary terms seem unnecessary (orphanage, gossip, villagers), or their explanations curious ("tribe: A group of people who often wander from one bit of wasteland to another"). The authors close the narrative with a summary of existing theories about "what really happened," posing questions about the clues. The intent is to help readers decide for themselves, although the questions posed are biased towards particular explanations. But it is accessible and fascinating, and fans of unsolved mysteries will enjoy turning back and forth through the pages of this one. (bibliography) (Fiction. 8-13)Read full book review >
FISHING FOR METHUSELAH by Roger Roth
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 1998

Roth delivers an unabashedly outrageous tale about the one that got away in this saga of two competitive fishermen and the wise fish that teaches them a lesson about friendship. Both Ivan and Olaf are determined to win the Winter Carnival fishing contest by capturing the ancient behemoth, Methuselah. Allowing rivalry to cloud their judgment, the two men select a precarious section of thin ice for their fishing spots. Methuselah, irritated by their squabbling, separates their section from solid ice and casts them adrift. Facing disaster, the two antagonists put rivalry aside; with inventive teamwork and a push from the aggravated but benevolent fish, Ivan and Olaf make it safely ashore and realize the true value of their friendship. Roth's wry humor is evident in his witty portrayal of the feisty friends. Detailed illustrations artfully depict both the sparkling, frostbound beauty of the northern woods and the hilarious antics of the combative fishermen. A rousing adventure with irascible, lovable heros. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
ALISON'S WINGS by Marion Dane Bauer
ADVENTURE
Released: April 22, 1996

Ignoring everyone's skepticism, Alison is sure that ``girl wings'' are about to poke out of her shoulder bumps. They do, sort of, but only when she's asleep. This entry in the Chapters series is simply and sparely written, but the episodes too often have disappointing outcomes. Brother Mike tells Alison to try flying off the porch; he amuses himself but all she gets is a bandaged knee. A playmate seems to share Alison's dream of flight, but gives up easily. Her parents surprise her with an airplane ride; she suffers through it silently and then smiles politely afterward. In the most satisfying chapter, Grandpa installs ``the nicest swing in the world'' on top of a hill: ``Here you are. Wings for a girl.'' But Alison will accept no substitutes, and the book ends much as it began, as she sinks into a nighttime dream of flying. Well-crafted, but prosaic and downbeat. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 6-8) Read full book review >
HARRIET'S HARE by Dick King-Smith
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 3, 1995

King-Smith's whimsical fantasy gets a science fiction twist in this story of a friendship between a girl and a vacationing extraterrestrial in the role usually assigned to a fairy godmother. Harriet, eight, has been contentedly living with her father and pony on an English farm. Then she meets a hare who likes to chat. It turns out that he is just visiting Earth and trying out various life forms, although he seems to prefer being a hare. He recognizes Harriet's need for a mother and provides one. She arrives in the form of a children's book writer who first stops at the farm for eggs and befriends both Harriet and her widower father; the latter she ultimately agrees to marry. This is another of King-Smith's quality easy chapter books, though not as compelling as Babe: The Gallant Pig or Three Terrible Trins (both Crown, 1993 and 1994). But if there is less action in this than in some of his more recent titles, the cover makes it clear that this is aimed at more thoughtful readers, who will enjoy it immensely. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
THE INVISIBLE DOG by Dick King-Smith
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 3, 1993

When Janie finds the leash and collar that belonged to Rupert—a paragon of a dog who died five years ago when she was two—her parents make it clear that they're not about to replace him: only another Great Dane would do, and they're far too expensive. Janie, a sensible lass whose persistence and imagination much resemble King-Smith's Sophie's, wastes no time in argument; instead, she declares the existence of an invisible Great Dane, gets her dad involved in naming him Henry, walks him around on the old leash, and makes friends with an elderly neighbor who accepts Henry's existence with a good-humored common sense that mirrors Janie's own. In the end, a real dog is found; just as her parents are beginning to come round anyhow, Janie gets an unexpected bequest, and they find a half-grown pup with a tiny kink in his tail that gives him a bargain price. A minor effort from this reliable author, but told in his usual refreshingly brisk style and set forth in attractive, easy- looking format. (Young reader. 7-10)Read full book review >
THE GIRAFFE THAT WALKED TO PARIS by Nancy Milton
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 1992

In 1826, the Egyptian pasha, trying to mend his diplomatic fences, presented King Charles X with the first giraffe ever to be seen in France. With three cows to provide her with milk, the young giraffe traveled to Marseilles by ship; since no conveyance was adequate to carry her on land, she had to walk from there to Paris—with an entourage that included the cows, several Egyptian keepers, an elderly professor (one of the few Frenchmen ``who knew anything about giraffes''), a dangerous antelope in a cage, a coach, and even a translator. Arriving in Paris, they were greeted by an enthusiastic populace and the eagerly impatient king. In her first book, Milton spices a true story with some dialogue and dozens of intriguing, authentic particulars. Roth, in another fine debut, catches the times and the tale's inherent humor in lively, detailed panoramas and more intimate scenes, with both humans and animals gently caricatured. A wonderfully amusing vignette that painlessly conveys quite a lot of social history. Informative historical note; map. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 5-10) Read full book review >