Author-Illustrator Spotlight: Jonathan Roth

© Jonathan Roth

Mar. 9, 2018

Today we are excited to feature author illustrator, Jonathan Roth be sure to enter the Rafflecopter to win a copy of both his debut MG books in the BEEP & BOP series (Simon & Schuster)!

Tell us about your background and how you came to write and illustrate for children.

I’ve had a passion for drawing and writing since I was a wee lad (see my Batman cartoon, one of the few early elementary artifacts I have left) and my desire to create characters and stories of my own has been with me the entire time.

Shortly after graduating from the Cooper Union School of Art in New York I began working on picture book dummies to submit, though I also began getting some freelance cartooning work at the time and put my book ambitions on hold for some years. But after I became a full time elementary art teacher in Maryland, my desire to make books for kids was reawakened and has never let up.

© Jonathan Roth

Congrats on your debut series, BEEP AND BOB. Tell us about them and what inspired you.

BEEP AND BOB is a funny and action-packed chapter book series about the reluctant new kid at space school and the devoted little alien who won’t leave his side. Bob “writes” the books as an assignment and Beep “illustrates” them (even though he keeps eating his pencils).

© Jonathan Roth

As for inspiration, I love all things that have to do with our beautiful planets, moons and stars, so I try to play with interesting space settings. The school setting is also very important, and has definitely been inspired by my many years as both a student and a teacher. As a teacher, I think I have a good sense of what kids are concerned about, and more crucially, what makes them laugh. The books are very silly by the way, so if you’re a grown-up, beware.

Was your road to publication long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?

I still had pretty thick hair when I sent out my first submission, I’ll say that much. It’s been such a windy, up and down process it would probably look a lot like Dorothy’s journey to Oz and back if you mapped it out (and maybe, like hers, it’s all been a dream). But I learn more and grow all the time, which is the important part.

© Jonathan Roth

As an author-illustrator, what drew you to illustrate chapter books rather than picture books?

I’d definitely love to do picture books, but I’m more of a cartoonist by practice (I used to do cartoon strips for various publications), which is a style that lends itself naturally to black & white spot illustration for chapter books. The writing for me comes first, but I also feel lucky I get to illustrate my own characters and stories.

© Jonathan Roth

What projects are you working on now?

I’m finishing up some details for Beep and Bob 3 (Take Us to Your Sugar, out in September, in which Bob discovers Halloween isn’t celebrated at his school in space, so he and Beep have to come up with another scheme to get free candy) and Beep and Bob 4 (Beep, Beep, Bob, Bob, in which they accidentally create evil doubles of themselves). Beyond that, I’m always thinking of potential Beep and Bob adventure, as well as other series ideas, too.

What advice would you give to other author-illustrators trying to break into illustrated novels?

Always look to see what’s being done, but in the end only create what really moves you. Also join SCBWI to learn about the industry and meet like-minded people, and always be open to feedback and prepared for rejection, because it’s a tough, competitive business that requires relentless perseverance.

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

Though I spend large parts of my day thinking about kidlit and how to teach and entertain young people, I know just about nothing about TV or video games aimed at the kiddos.

Where can people find you online?

My website is, which has book and contact info, as well as a hand-out for kids on how to draw Beep. Thank you so much for having me!!

Author-Illustrator Jonathan Roth is a public elementary school art teacher who lives in Rockville, Maryland, with his wife, two kitties and three or more bicycles. Though Jonathan has never left the Earth, he has met four of the astronauts who have gone to the moon. Beep and Bob (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin) is his first series.

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  1. Meeting four moon astronauts sounds cool! So do your books. Congratulations!

  2. I had the opportunity to read one of the Beep and Bob books with my 6 yo, and we loved it! Will be featuring as a review sometime soon. Congratulations on the books! Liz

  3. These look like fun! The covers are delightful!

  4. I have to read these books! Thanks for the "how to draw" part of the post--I learned that the shading functions to show shape.

  5. Oh, these look like so much fun! I think the students will love reading them! So will I! Congratulations!

  6. This series has been on my to-read radar for some time. Looking forward to sharing Beep and Bob with my grandsons.


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