- Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon
At first, they only hear each other: Herman the oboe-playing crocodile overhears Rosie the jazz-singing deer at her voice lessons (“Someone was singing … and it was wonderful. It made him feel like he had eaten honey straight from the jar”), and Rosie hears Herman’s rooftop oboe-playing through her bathroom window one night. Then Herman loses his job, and the small jazz club where Rosie sings closes down. Bereft, the two mourn their losses separately until the night Rosie follows the oboe music she hears to Herman’s rooftop. Companionship clearly makes everything better, as the final spread shows Rosie and Herman happily performing [End Page 211] together onstage. The narrative is concise yet moving, and Herman and Rosie are each characterized by a few well-chosen, unique details. Gordon evocatively captures both the energy and the loneliness of big-city life, and, although there’s a slightly adult sensibility to Rosie and Herman’s story, kids who have had both good and bad experiences with solitude may well relate to their experiences. The mixed-media art effectively incorporates collage-like elements (such as photographs of objects, newspaper pages, and vintage postcard backs) and handwritten depictions of the city signs and sounds, into his rendering of New York, adding texture and richness to the slightly skewed and pleasingly crowded scenes. Add this to a storytime or unit on friendship, music, or city life, or simply enjoy it on its own, perhaps with an accompaniment of some softly played jazz.