1. The end papers - if you are a regular reader of my blog you will know I really appreciate illustrators and book designers who take the time to include end papers that extend the text of a book. In Herman and Rosie you will see an old map of New York with little stickers attached to show where Rosie and Herman live along with the location of a "great hot dog place".
2. The ending : "Rosie found Herman. And Herman found Rosie. The city was never quite the same." I am such a romantic!
3. The music which floats through all the glorious illustrations. I think I will read this book to the children in my library with a soft jazz track playing in the background.
4. The views of NY city - the Brooklyn Bridge, the subway, the Empire State building and more.
5. The use of maps. I adore maps in books and the one Gus has made showing how Herman and Rosie roam all over the city but never quite meet up is perfect.
This is a book about relationships. We are all different. We look different. We enjoy different things and yet we all long to make connections.
Gus Gordon includes an important quote on the imprint page of his book :
"I have at last, after several MONTH'S experience, made up my mind that [New York] is a splendid desert - a domed and steepled solitude, where the stranger is LONELY in the midst of a million of his race." Mark Twain, June 5, 1967. I visited New York city just last year and I certainly experienced this exact feeling. Things might have been different if I had met Herman.
After reading this book I will look at Nobody owns the Moon by Tohby Riddle which has a similar theme of two disparate animals who link up in the city. The biggest difference is that in Nobody owns the Moon the two friends part at the end and may not see each other again. I remember this made me quite sad. We will also look at the joyous series Melrose and Croc by Emma Chichester Clark which by coincidence also features a crocodile or is Herman an Alligator? We will also read one of my all time favourite books about friendship - A friend like Ed.
One final thing. Stop and take a few minutes to look very closely at the front and back covers of this book. You will see it is actually a record inside its sleeve. Such a perfect nostalgic image.
Look out for the 'boss' of the multinational telemarketing company that Herman works for. A very funny political comment.
You can read some reviews of this book here. The reviewer in Magpies can have the final word
"This picture book is so hip it positively swings, but it also has soul and leaves you feeling like you've eaten honey straight from the jar." Tali Levi is quoting Herman himself. Magpies Volume 27 Issue 4