Rover and Speck: This GBF Rocks!

I met Jonathan Roth when he presented his chapter book series Beep and Bob at the Gaithersburg Book Festival in 2019, and found out that he was an art educator in the same school system as me. Since then we have crossed paths several times, and am excited to share his newest book with you – Rover and Speck: This Planet Rocks – a full color graphic novel for young readers. The second in this series, Rover and Speck: Splash Down, publishes in October 2023.

Jonathan Roth will be a featured presenter at the 14th Annual Gaithersburg Book Festival on Saturday, May 20, 2023, at Bohrer Park.  He is presenting along with Jarrett Lerner and Dave Roman at 11:15 am in the Graphic Novels and Workshops Pavilion.  In addition, Jonathan will be a featured presenter at GBF Continues @MCPL on Sunday, May 21, 2023 at 3:00 pm.

 I hope you enjoy my interview with Jonathan Roth!

Who encouraged or inspired you to become an author/illustrator?

My mom is an artist (painter) and my dad was a longtime English teacher. Together they fostered in me a healthy obsession with pictures and words!

What is your writing space like?

I do almost all my writing and illustrating at my desk in a little room in my home in Twinbrook, Rockville.

What do you love most about the cover art and illustrations in your current book?   Describe your art style and your art process.

I love the vibrant color! And that’s due to the talents of my colorist, Paulina Suarez (like many comic artists, I work with someone who does the coloring). I first do very rough illustrations (pencil and/or digital) as a layout, and once edited, craft the final illustrations on my graphics tablet for Paulina to work on.

What prompted you to try a graphic novel format?

I love comics! Years ago, I had hundreds of comics strips published (more for an older audience) and tried for a while to get a syndicated strip. When I finally broke into children’s book it was with illustrated chapter books with lots of dialogue. Those aren’t graphic novels, but it wasn’t such a stretch after that to then go graphic! 

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?

So hard to pick a favorite! But I have a special place in my heart for the funnier, goofier ones like Beep and Speck. 

How (or in what ways) do you hope librarians will promote your book? 

Any way they choose! Important message books are crucial, of course, but so are zanier, adventurous books (like mine) that may inspire kids to pick books up. I also love to be invited by librarians and media specialists to talk in their libraries and schools.

Who is the reader you are writing for?  Please describe them.

I’m writing for young readers who like humorous buddy/friendship stories. Though my books tend to be zany, space-based adventures, the common thread is mismatched, funny duos.

What is one (or more) thing(s) that you really want your readers to know about you?

Many authors, like myself, work at other jobs too. My other career is teaching art at an elementary school (next year will be my 25th year teaching!). Also, besides the next two ROVER AND SPECK books, I’m also working on my first creative non-fiction picture book, which will come out in the summer of 2024.

Which book review or award has been most meaningful to you?

ROVER AND SPECK was placed on one of the ALA’s ‘Core Excellence in Children’s and YA Science Fiction Notable Lists’ this year, which was a surprise and a very nice honor. Go librarians!

What are you most looking forward to at our book festival?

Meeting young readers and creators!

What message do you have for your readers?

All authors are readers first. And all readers have worthwhile stories of their own to tell. So read, read, read, and if you’re up to it, grab some paper and write or draw whatever inspires you! 

Visit Jonathan Roth’s website and follow him on Instagram @jonmrothbooks.

Don’t Worry, Get Happy with Paul Noth

The 10th Gaithersburg Book Festival is right around the corner, and I am excited to share the third in my trilogy of interviews with GBF featured children’s authors.   Paul Noth will be a featured author paired with Jonathan Roth for both their book presentations, and a children’s workshop entitled Creating Characters with Character, where Noth and Roth 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.

Paul Noth, known for his witty cartoons regularly appear in the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal, has also written for Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Late Late Show, among other television shows.  He hasn’t been known as a KidLit author till of late. He is the author of How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens (April 2018) described by School Library Journal as “Strange and original with just the right amount of juvenile humor, this story features odd and endearing characters and a wonderfully weird plot.” At the Gaithersburg Book Festival he will be speaking about  How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth (January 2019), which Kirkus Reviews states that it is … “a story where everyone deserves to be the main character.”   Coming in September 2019 is How to Win the Science Fair When You’re Dead which promises to be another “laugh-out-loud” funny book for middle grade readers.    

How did your journey take you from The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, and evening talk shows, to children’s books?

I’ve always wanted to write both picture books and children’s novels. Once my work started appearing regularly in the New Yorker, several agents reached out to me asking if I had ideas for kids’ books, so that provided the opportunity.

What is one (or more) thing(s) that you really want your readers to know about you?

Sometimes I think the less they know about me the better. I like my books and cartoons to speak for themselves. But if they have to know something, it’s that I have two dogs, Watson and Biscuit.

Who is the student you are writing for?  Describe him/her.

He or she treasures funny books and cartoons as much as I do.

What are you most looking forward about the Gaithersburg Book Festival (can be more than one thing ;-D )

I’m really looking forward to collaborating with Jonathan Roth again. He and I hit it off last time. We work well together.

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

I say it’s a great festival and well worth the trip.

What message do you have for your readers?

Thank you for reading my books! I know the second one, How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, but book 3, How to Win the Science Fair When You’re Dead is out in September!

What message to you have for educators, and especially for school librarians?

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Please visit for more information about him!

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!

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

Paul Noth and Jonathan Roth

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