Herman and Rosie, Gus Gordon, Penguin/Viking, $24.95

I CAN’T claim to know NYC very well. I’ve only been twice, but it remains one of those cities that has a charged mythology. I remember ice skating at Rockerfeller Centre, eating a hot dog in Central Park, the elevator ride to the top of the Empire State Building, wistfully walking past Tiffany’s, buying a MAC lipstick from Henri Bendel, hyperventilating at the sheer size of Barnes and Nobel and watching the ball drop in Time Square with what felt like the entire world.


All of these memories resurfaced when I read Gus Gordon’s delightful picture book Herman and Rosie, which is about two strangers whose lives intersect in surprising ways. Herman Schubert likes pot plants, playing the oboe and “watching films about the ocean”. In an apartment nearby, Rosie Bloom loves singing, listening to old jazz records and  “watching films about the ocean.”

On good days, the city makes them feel like they can do anything, but when Herman loses his day job and Rosie can no longer sing at her local jazz club, the world starts to feels less friendly. As they each take a solitary walk around New York, pondering life’s ups and down, they unknowingly make their way into each other’s lives.

Gus Gordon’s mixed media illustrations (the cover looks like a record album) not only evoke the mood of the city, they also reflect the emotional life of these two memorable characters.  The book has a real sweetness and sense of humour, but it’s not heavy-handed, just the opposite in fact. It’s the sort of book that shares a little more each time you read it.



Readers three and up.


Wendy, Puffin, $14.95