Outta this World with Jonathan Roth


The 10th Gaithersburg Book Festival is right around the corner, and I am excited to share the first in my series of interviews with GBF featured children’s authors!  Jonathan Roth will be a featured author paired with Paul Noth for both their book presentations, and a children’s workshop entitled Creating Characters with Character, where Roth and Noth will help elementary age kids come up with characters that are fun, interesting and have meaning to the creator. They will brainstorm ideas, draw figures, come up with meaningful motivations and, of course, cool character names.

Roth is the author and illustrator of the Beep and Bob chapter book series.   Currently, there are four in the series:  Too Much Space!, Party Crashers, Take Us to Your Sugar, and Double Trouble (he also has the Astro Adventures boxed set).  In this fun-loving chapter book series that School Library Journal said is for “kids who love funny stories but may be too young for books like ­Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” timid space-school attendee Bob and his new alien best friend Beep (who thinks Bob is his mother) find themselves thrown into hilarious intergalactic adventures. 

Roth is also an art teacher with Montgomery County Public Schools, and I caught up with him during spring break. 

Who is the student you are writing for? 

I’m writing for the newly independent reader who I’m hoping will fall in love with books and reading. The stakes are high, because today’s kids have so much flashy lights competing for their attention. But good characters and stories can get right to the heart like nothing else, and I’m particularly aiming for students who like humor, adventure, friendship stories and space.

How do you balance being a teacher and an author/illustrator?   How much time are you able to spend daily or weekly on your own writing and art projects?

Teaching is very rewarding but…exhausting. I mostly write on weekends and breaks. I’m more apt to do illustration work in the evenings after school, or tasks relating to the business end of things. I definitely get a lot done in the summer!

What are you most looking forward to about the Gaithersburg Book Festival (can be more than one thing 😊 )?

I always discover great books and authors at the event! The line up for children’s and teen books is really first rate, and I’m honored to be on the roster for the second time. I’m also looking forward to it not raining this year! (Hope I didn’t just jinx it…) We also hope you didn’t!

When you tell other authors and illustrators about GBF, what do you say?

I’ve been attending since year one, and I tell them how lucky I am to have one of the best general book festivals in the country almost in my backyard! If they haven’t yet, I hope they can experience it one day, either as attendee or speaker.

What message do you have for your readers?

Thank you for reading, Beep, Bob and I really appreciate it! If you liked book one, be sure to read all four! And if you didn’t like book one, read all four anyway, because they’re bound to get better. Also, I love when you send me questions, thoughts or cool character drawings.

What message to you have for our follow educator colleagues, and especially for school librarians?

Thank you for all you do! I may be biased, but I believe teaching kids to be good readers and getting good books in their hands is one of society’s most important missions. These kids are the future and it’s in all our best interest for them to be well read, creative and critical thinkers. Or, to sum up more succinctly: teachers and librarians rock!

Jonathan Roth’s Beep and Bob website is here: http://beepandbob.com/

For the Beep and Bob Activity Kit, click here!

Gaithersburg Book Festival will be held on May 18, 2019, 10 am – 6 pm on the grounds of Gaithersburg City Hall.  Visit the website here!

Jonathan’s books will be available for sale at the Politics and Prose Book Store tent.

Jonathan Roth and Paul Noth    

Author Presentation:  Begins at 12:15 pm

Location:  Willa Cather Pavilion

Children’s Workshop: Creating Characters with Character

Time: 11:15-11:45 am

Location: Children’s Workshops Tent

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