Even though I am still relatively new at this, if you have read any…some…maybe one of my posts, you will know that I am a HUGE proponent of children who read along, editorialize, or otherwise embellish a story. Well, you can only imagine how excited I was when I found Gregory Rogers and his three fabulous books with NO WORDS AT ALL, but the most fabulous illustrations you will ever lay your eyes upon. Oh my, I can’t remember when I have been so excited.
If you don’t know Gregory Rogers – you need to meet him. He was born in 1957 and lives in Brisbane. He studied fine art and worked as a graphic designer before taking up freelance illustration in 1987. In 1995 Gregory won the Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations inWay Home. He is the first, and to date the only, Australian illustrator ever to have won this prestigious British award. Way Home also won a Parents Choice award in the USA and was shortlisted for the ABPA book design awards. He is also a talented musician. He plays the cornetto, recorder and baroque guitar, performing music of the 16th and 17th centuries.
I first picked up The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard not even realizing that this was only the beginning. The boy, just like most boys would, is kicking his soccer ball and kicks it through a window of an old building…and so the adventure begins. He finds a room chock-a-block full of old clothes (a wardrobe room) and has a blast trying them on. He settles on a cape that he believe suits him just fine, thank you very much, and he continues on kicking his ball….right on to the stage of the Globe Theatre. Because, you see, the cape has allowed him to travel back in time. He interrupts a play taking place on the stage incurring the wrath of The Bard, and so his adventure through the streets of London begins. I will not spoil the details, but along the way he does pick up a Bear and a Baron. You, my friends, are at liberty to craft the story with the rich illustrations.
We meet The Bear and The Boy again in Midsummer Knight, the second book in the series, which begins where the first book leaves us. As the story opens The Bear is floating along a river. Again let me just say you will not be disappointed. The theme of friendship between The Boy and The Bear continues here and characters that we met in the first book will also appear in this one.
In the third Boy Bear book, The Hero of Little Street, we move from the world of Shakespeare to Holland thanks to a Vermeer painting. One day while the boy is playing at Trafalgar Square (this would never happen in real life…where are his parents, after all!) he accidentally manages to kick someone else’s soccer ball into the fountain. OOPS! And so it begins again. He manages to escape the group of boys who are chasing him by running into the National Gallery, but of course. After having some fun exploring the different galleries a dog in a painting licks his face…what…and now the adventure really begins off they go into a painting traveling back in time to Vermeer’s Holland. Roger’s illustrations again are so real you almost feel as if you have been transported back in time. The Boy and The Dog have a wild time and forge a close friendship… you won’t want to miss this one, I promise.
I urge you to pick up just one of these books and try it – find a cozy spot, maybe a cup of hot chocolate and get ready to have some reading fun with your best friend. And then, I dare you not to run out and buy the other two!