About the Holiday
For readers today’s holiday might be the best day of the year! With so many fantastic books to discover, one day doesn’t seem like enough! To make the most of it get up early and go to bed late, call in sick (Shhh…don’t tell them I told you to), order take out for lunch and dinner or read in a favorite restaurant, hire a baby sitter, go to the library or local bookstore….Just find a way to have quiet time to yourself—like Roger in today’s book!
Roger Is Reading a Book
By Koen Van Biesen | Translated by Laura Watkinson
Roger is a minimalist. His room consists of a black padded stool, a hook holding an orange coat, scarf, and umbrella, an extendable lamp jutting from the wall, and a basset hound pining for its leash crumpled on the floor. And—oh yes—there is Roger. Roger is sitting on the stool, reading. The little volume is engrossing, and Roger, in his tweed cap, plaid bowtie, green sweater vest, white shirt, orange outlined pants, and blue striped socks tucked into white shoes, is pondering a page.
Suddenly from the other side of the wall/left-hand page comes a resounding BOING BOING. It’s Emily bouncing a basketball! Roger flips his lid and the dog’s ear springs to attention. Emily, herself, and her room are a sight to behold. Emily’s thick unruly hair sports an enormous butterfly, she wears a number 2 on her pink dress, and her room is cluttered with the trappings of her hobbies. Roger rises, sets his book on the stool, and knocks on the wall while his dog offers his leash with hope. Emily stops her bouncing to listen.
Ah! Silence reigns once more and Roger goes back to his book. But what’s this?! Emily is singing. The song is “LALALA” loud! Once again Roger knocks—“KNOCKITY KNOCK.” His dog wags his tail at the door. Okay, order has been restored and Roger, a little distracted, goes back to reading. What on Earth??!! “BOOM BOOM BOOM” Emily is playing the drum. The noise shakes Roger to his core. A shoe flies off, the lamp leaps upward, the book bounds away, Roger whips his head around. “KNOCK KNOCK KNOCKITY KNOCK” Ugh! Thinks Emily. Not this too!
“POK POK POK” Emily juggles colorful clubs while poor Roger rubs his eyes, his book languishing in his hand. Even the basset hound has a paw over his snout. “TRIP TRIP TRAP” Emily is now practicing ballet. Despondent Roger has turned his back on the whole thing—as has his dog and his lamp. The book lies abandoned in the corner. “BAF BAF BAF” Emily is boxing! Something must be done! Roger paces. “Is Roger reading? No, Roger is not reading now.”
“Book down. Coat on. Scarf on. Light off. Roger has made up his mind.” “KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.” Roger knocks on Emily’s door. With a package. Emily tears it open. “OH…A book.” Roger returns to his room and his coat and scarf to the hook. He turns on the lamp and sits down on the stool. “Shhhh! Quiet. Emily is reading. Emily is reading a book.” It’s about juggling and basketball and other things. She holds her stuffed giraffe for company. “Shhhh! Quiet. Roger is reading. Roger is reading a book.” His failthful dog lies nearby for company.
Late into the night they read, their rooms illuminated only by a single lamp. “WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF ….” Both Roger and Emily jump, startled out of their reverie. There’s only one thing to do. Roger and Emily take the dog for a walk.
With just a glance at the cover of Koen Van Biesen’s Roger Is Reading a Book, readers know they are in for a treat. The distinctive artwork defies simple explanation. Part outline, part optical illusion, the illustrations combine the immediacy of an art installation with the humor of a New Yorker cartoon. You feel for Roger, who just wants to sit quietly and read his book. But perhaps also for Emily, alone, who is trying to fill the empty hours. And of course for Roger’s basset hound, who has a very real need to go out.
The trio’s circumstances come together on a rainy afternoon to create escalating hilarity and finally the perfect solution. The minimal text, displayed in various sizes and colors of type, enhances the droll nature of Roger and Emily’s contest of wills and allows for the illustrations to depict Roger’s growing discontent and Emily’s dedication to her activities. Roger’s basset hound and lamp are funny foils empathizing with Roger’s pain.
The unique art and fun animated read-aloud opportunities presented in this picture book make Roger Is Reading a Book a must for kids’ (or adults’) libraries.
Ages 4 – 8 (and up)
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015 | ISBN 978-0802854421
Book Lovers Day Activity
Read aLOUD Bookmark
Make some noise for your favorite book with this bell-tastic bookmark! It’s easy to make, and everywhere you go you’ll give your book a ringing endorsement!
- 3 novelty shoe laces or three strands of thin ribbon in different designs
- 6 small jingle bells
- Cut the shoelaces or ribbon to the length you want for your books
- Knot the three shoelaces or strands of ribbon together at one end
- Braid the three shoelaces or strands of ribbon together
- Knot the strands together at the top, leaving about two inches of unbraided shoelace or ribbon hanging
- Thread the bells on a piece of string or cord
- At the knot tie the bells around the shoelaces or ribbon
Picture Book Review