Herman and Rosie

Written and Illustrated by: Gus Gordan

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

Herman is a talented oboist and Rosie is a talented singer. Alone, they are forced to navigate the noisy and lonely streets of Manhattan on their own, but when they finally meet, they realize that they were meant to be and that the city doesn't have to be such a lonely place. Talk to your child about the cover illustration as well as the illustrations on the inside of the front and back covers. Ask about the clues that s/he notices that may give some relevant information about what the story is about. Be sure to bring your child's attention to the fact that the front cover is a large record cover. Try asking questions like:

Make Observations.

What do you notice on the front cover?

What animals are Herman and Rosie?

Make Predictions.

What do you think will happen in this story?

Talk About Personal Abilities and Preferences.

Do you play an instrument? If so, which instrument? Do you like to sing?

What is your favorite kind of music/song? Why is that your favorite? How does it make you feel?

Make A K-W-L Chart

Help your child compile these thoughts into a K-W-L chart, with notes on what your child knows, what s/he wants to know, and what s/he has learned at the end of the story.

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As You Read

These illustrations are full of incredibly entertaining details that add to the text, so be sure to explore them as you go along. Talk about the different instruments, the incorporation of newspaper clippings, and the sounds surrounding the characters. These are all important to your storytelling and will add more insight and appreciation for the story. 

Vocabulary Building

If your child is able to read, allow him/her to read the story or alternate reading each page. As you help your child break down words into letters and sounds, s/he will be better equipped to read more words and understand how they are formed. If your child is unfamiliar with words like BOYSENBERRY or OBOE, take a moment to explore the illustrations and context to help him/her discover what these words mean.


Making Connections

Help your child interact with the illustrations by following the path that Herman and Rosie walk on their day wandering about the city. Encourage him/her to trace the path with his/her finger and to stop at the places that are along the way. Name the buildings and sights on the map and then talk about what your child sees when s/he walks in a familiar place like your neighborhood or a park.

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

Ask your child about the plot of the story and what s/he learned from it. Use questions like:

What did Herman and Rosie have in common?

How did their paths cross in the story before they actually met?

How did they meet?

What is something that you learned from this story?

Sounds in Everyday Life

Sound and music play an important role in this story so ask your child what role they play in his/her life. Ask about the sounds that s/he hears from his/her bedroom, walking through the neighborhood, on the way to school, etc. The next time you and your child go outside, ask him/her to pay attention to the different sounds and  try to identify what is making them. 

Activity: Make A Homemade Oboe

Inspired by: Howcast

Supplies: straws and scissors


Turn a simple drinking straw into a musical instrument in just a few short steps! Then you and your child can be just like Herman and play your very own oboes. Follow this instructional video and the instructions below to find out how.

  1. Flatten one end of the straw. 
  2. Cut the end of the straw into a point.
  3. Poke as many holes as you'd like along the straw.


STEM Extension

Turn this into an experiment and see how the pitch changes when you alter the oboe. Try cutting more holes into the straw, cutting it in half, or adding another straw to the end and see what happens. Continue the discussion about sounds with this fun activity, talking about how sound vibrations are made and how they result in what we hear.

Check This Out

Refer back to your book and go to the illustration where Rosie is singing to jazz in her fifth floor apartment. Notice the names on the records around the room and tell your child that these names are based on real jazz musicians like Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis. Listen to some of their music and talk about what your child thinks about this genre of music.