Chapter books are where the magic happens. Finally able to tackle books on his own, my son delighted in more challenging prose, exciting plot twists and bright illustrations. He was taking the first step toward a lifetime of reading.
I love the humor and madcap adventures many of these books offer, often in series form, where kids can plow forward without pause. School Library Journal says of Jonathan Roth’s Beep and Bob series ‘Roth creates many unusual space terms and infuses the story with humor and gross details that are sure to make kids giggle. Beep is a cute and fun sidekick and Bob is relatable as an average kid in a not-so-average situation.’ This is exactly the type of series that has kids asking for more!
Now a few questions for the author…
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing come from?
My father was an English teacher and my mother is a painter, so books and art were always a big part of my childhood environment. Back then (last century!) there weren’t nearly as many awesome chapter books or middle grade novels as there now, so I mostly read comics or adult sci-fi (I could have really used fun school/action books like Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls!). I was also fascinated with such classics as Alice in Wonderland and Charlotte’s Web (look for the references in my first Beep and Bob). Also, a real game changer was when my sixth grade teacher read Paul Zindel’s The Pigman aloud to us. It was about real kids doing real things, and it was absolutely poignant and even had fun doodles on some pages. My mind was blown (and not just because they drank beer).
The Beep and Bob series takes place in space. Were you interested in space as a child? What is your research process like?
My love of space, and any relevant research, takes three forms: favorite childhood sci-fi like Star Trek, Star Wars and E.T; an obsession with the real life stories behind the Apollo moon missions and other NASA adventures; and my love for the wonder of nature and being able to gaze with my with own eyes upon distant stars and worlds.
I love the pictures in this series! Do you illustrate your own work? Which is more fun, illustrating or writing?
Yes, I feel fortunate to get illustrate my own stories. But even though I went to art school and teach art to elementary kids for a living, the writing is where Beep and Bob truly come to life for me. But doing the illustrations is a lot of fun, too, especially because I can blast rock and jazz instead of the usual classical that I write to (writing with lyrics being sung or too much noise is distracting to me).
Who are your favorite authors?
Favorites are hard, but I certainly can trace much of my influence to such creators as Charles Schulz, Bill Watterson, Jeff Kinney and the true master of short, silly fiction, J.R.R. Tolkien. I also credit such perfect, concise and touching books as The Giver, Shiloh, Bridge to Terabithia, and Holes for showing me the amazing range of what is possible.
What is your favorite thing to do when not writing?
When I’m not writing or illustrating, I like to really go wild and…read. Preferably in bed. Though I also love to be outdoors, either walking with my wife or off on a cycling adventure.
What are you working on right now?
Even though Beep and Bob books 1 and 2 are just coming out, the manuscripts for books 3 and 4 have already been handed in, and I’m currently working on the illustrations for both. As you know, books require a lot of lead time!
How do you prefer readers get in touch with you?
There are a couple options on the contact page of my website, www.beepandbob.com. Look forward to hearing from folks!