Married Darlene Friedman (a writer); children: Eden (daughter). Education: Pratt Institute, B.F.A., 1980.
Home and office—PA. Agent—Transatlantic Literary Agency Inc., P.O. Box 349, Rockville Centre, NY 11571. E-mail—[email protected]
Educator and illustrator and author of books for children. Freelance illustrator, beginning 1982. University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA, senior lecturer in illustration. Former muralist.
Golden Archer Award (WI), for Fishing for Methuselah.
The Sign Painter's Dream, Crown (New York, NY), 1993.
Fishing for Methuselah, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.
(With wife, Darlene Friedman) Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption, and Brownies with Sprinkles, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2009.
Nancy Milton, The Giraffe That Walked to Paris, Crown (New York, NY), 1992.
Stephen Baker, How to Live with a Neurotic Cat Owner: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Your Cat but Were Afraid to Ask: Everything Your Cat Knows about You without Even Having to Ask, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Dick King-Smith, The Invisible Dog, Crown (New York, NY), 1993.
Terri Epstein, The Cat Hall of Fame: Imaginary Portraits and Profiles of the World's Most Famous Felines, Carol Pub. Group (New York, NY), 1994.
Dick King-Smith, Harriet's Hare, Crown (New York, NY), 1995.
Marion Dane Bauer, Alison's Wings, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1996.
Gery Greer, Billy the Ghost and Me, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.
Dick King-Smith, Mr. Ape, Crown (New York, NY), 1998.
Dick King-Smith, The Merman, Crown (New York, NY), 1999.
Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery from History, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1999.
Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, The Wolf Girls: An Unsolved Mystery from History, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2001.
Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, Roanoke: The Last Colony: An Unsolved Mystery from History, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2003.
Jill Esbaum, Stink Soup, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2004.
Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.
Jennifer Armstrong, The American Story: One Hundred True Tales from American History, A.A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Barron's.
Pennsylvania-based educator and artist Roger Roth began his career as a sign painter, and also created several mural installations before turning his creative talents to the field of book illustration in 1992 with The Giraffe That Walked to Paris by Nancy Milton. Roth's work, which has appeared in such varied books as Jennifer Armstrong's The American Story: One Hundred True Tales from American History; The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History by mother-and-daughter team Jane Yolen and Heidi Y.E. Stemple; Jill Esbaum's humorous Stink Soup; and Dick King-Smith's Mr. Ape, showcase his versatility. His "cheerful black-and-white art" for Mr. Ape provides readers with "a diverting bonus," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor, while the "big, bold" watercolor illustrations he creates for The Salem Witch Trials "serve the text well," in the opinion of Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper. "Brightening nearly every page" of The American Story "are lively drawings enhanced by watercolor washes," maintained Carolyn Phelan in the same periodical, while in School Library Journal Ann Welton noted that Roth's "numerous soft color illustrations" make The American Story "an excellent classroom resource." In Stink Soup Roth's "realistic" watercolor-
and-pencil art seasons Esbaum's folksy story "with wry humor, comeuppance, and down-home flavor," concluded a Kirkus Reviews writer.
In addition to his work as an illustrator, Roth has also created several original picture books inspired by his own life experiences. As a young man, Roth worked as a sign painter, and his employer was the inspiration behind The Sign Painter's Dream. In this book, Crabby Clarence is a sign painter who has earned his nickname due to his curmudgeonly manner. He is penurious as well, and when an elderly woman asks him to create a bold sign to announce the availability of a bounty of fresh apples, he charges her an outrageous price. In response, she quotes a saying that resonates in the signmaker's mind. When he hears the saying again in a dream, it is spoken by none other than George Washington himself, and the great man's chiding inspires Clarence to make the woman's sign for free. Calling The Sign Painter's Dream "an amusing picture book with a sportive spin on matters historical," a Publishers Weekly contributor added that Roth injects his characters "with an infections spirit all their own."
Roth's fondness both for ice fishing and time spent with good friends inspired his picture book Fishing for Methuselah. In the story, woodsmen Ivan and Olaf have been the best of friends since childhood, although they become competitive when they both set to the same task. This competitive streak begins to take its toll, however, as the annual ice-fishing competition approaches, and both men are determined to outdo the other by hooking a mythic fish said to live in Moosehead Lake. When Ivan and Olaf literally begin treading on thin ice, the wise fish decides to teach both men a lesson that will restore their friendship. In Publishers Weekly a reviewer wrote that the illustrations in Fishing for Methuselah "ably depict … both the frosty setting and the warmth underlying the companions' gruff demeanor," while Booklist critic Michael Cart dubbed Roth's images "agreeably energetic and especially effective at capturing the look of the frozen North."
One of Roth's more recent projects is one done in collaboration with his writer wife, Darlene Friedman. Titled Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption, and Brownies with Sprinkles, the picture book is based on the couple's experiences raising their daughter, Eden, who was adopted from China as an infant.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, June 1, 1993, Hazel Rochman, review of The Sign Painter's Dream, p. 1860; May 1, 1998, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Mr. Ape, p. 1518; November 15, 1998, Michael Cart, review of Fishing from Methuselah, p. 597; July, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Roanoke: The Lost Colony: An Unsolved Mystery from History, p. 1888; September 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History, p. 118; August 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of The American Story: One Hundred True Tales from American History, p. 69.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 1998, review of Fishing for Methuselah, p. 110.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2004, review of Stink Soup, p. 132; August 15, 2004, review of The Salem Witch Trials, p. 815.
Publishers Weekly, May 3, 1993, review of The Sign Painter's Dream, p. 307; March 16, 1998, review of Mr. Ape, p. 64; October 19, 1998, review of Fishing for Methuselah, p. 80; March 8, 2004, review of Stink Soup, p. 72.
School Library Journal, May, 1993, review of The Sign Painter's Dream, p. 70; December, 1998, Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, review of Fishing for Methuselah, p. 91; October, 2003, Nancy Palmer, review of Roanoke, p. 157; March, 2004, Carolyn Janssen, review of Stink Soup, p. 157; August, 2006, Ann Welton, review of The American Story, p. 133.
Roger Roth Home Page,http://www.rogerroth.com (May 23, 2008).