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Where's Rodney? Hardcover – August 7, 2017
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From Midwest Book Review:
Extraordinary, entertaining, and original, "Where's Rodney?" is very highly recommended for children ages 4 to 8, and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.
From Kirkus (starred review):
Can-never-sit-still Rodney really wants to be outside, but it seems the world conspires against his urges. . . [W]hat happens when Rodney finally makes it outside on a class field trip to a park that puts him directly in contact with nature? He’s high, he’s low, and he’s everywhere in between as his natural impulses to explore and discover lead to a calm, “majestic” conclusion. Cooper’s signature style captures Rodney’s fidgetiness indoors and his growing excitement as the school bus rumbles out of town. In the park, a sequence of spectacular double-page sequences places Rodney within the park’s many wonders, and readers can see clearly how this immersion in nature allows the boy to be exactly himself. Combining the amazement offered by the natural world with an unconventional and poignant dose of social commentary, this story gives more to its readers than what meets the eye.
CCBC Book of the Week, July 10, 2017 :
Rodney, a Black child in a diverse, contemporary classroom, is experiencing nature on a scale both grand and intimate at the center of this buoyant yet contemplative picture book with illustrations that reflect both the changing physical landscape and emotional range of the story as Rodney discovers that “outdoors” can not only be “majestic,” but peaceful, too. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
From Publishers Weekly:
In hazy scenes that glow with warmth, Cooper (Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History) pays homage to the dramatic landscape of the unnamed park, but the focus of his images and Bogan’s understated writing is on Rodney, and how he finally has the freedom to investigate nature intimately and on his own terms. It’s a stirring reminder of the importance of access to nature, and how rare that access is for many children. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
From Booklist (starred review):
Always more interested in what’s happening outside the school walls than in his classroom, Rodney has a reputation for goofing off. He’s not impressed to hear that the word of the week is “majestic . . . grand and
beautiful,” or that his class will be visiting a park on Friday. . . . At their destination (perhaps a national park), he
runs fast, climbs rocks slowly, calls loudly, watches quietly, and feels “more outside than he had ever been
before.” On the ride home, he’s uncharacteristically still and silent—except for calling the park “majestic.”
The well-phrased text shifts gears effectively in the field trip scenes, where brief, paired sentences focus
tightly on Rodney’s experiences and let the illustrations work their magic. In a series of softly lit,
beautifully shaded paintings, Cooper depicts Rodney as a likable black kid whose active curiosity and high
energy find liberation in the park. Rodney’s teacher, Momma, his multicultural class, and his transcendent
encounter with the natural world are subtly, expressively portrayed. A heartwarming picture book. —Carolyn Phelan, June 1, 2017
From San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 2017 :
Here, an Oakland author writes with clear purpose about the transformative power of nature. . . where Rodney comes to understand what "majestic" really does mean. He is awed by the cliffs, canyons, trees, animals, and sky. Dusky, soft-focused paintings chronicle his journey of discovery (and self-discovery) with a final note that encourages kids to get out on their own or through nonprofits that promote environmental education.
From School Library Journal:
PreS-Gr 2-Rodney has trouble being inside and sitting still at school. Though he acts like a clown in his diverse classroom, the boy is also a careful observer of his urban environment, noticing small insects and birds gliding overhead. Rodney enjoys being outside but is less than thrilled when his teacher announces that the students are going to visit a park. The African American child imagines they will be going to the nearby small, seedy green space his mother forbids him to enter. On field trip day, Rodney is surprised when the bus leaves the city, travels through the countryside, and climbs high onto a mountain. For the first time in his life, the boy really feels "outside" as he explores nature and many of its wild wonders. Rodney discovers he can change from fast to slow or loud to quiet, depending on the situation. Illustrator Cooper uses his trademark oil wash technique to reveal views of Rodney's city, then depicts the beauty of a vast mountaintop park. The small boy's world is greatly enlarged by his unexpected joyful experience. Readers are left to hope that this is just the first of many eye-opening, and perhaps life-changing, adventures for the boy. VERDICT A lovely book to share one-on-one or with a class preparing for an outing. —Maryann H. Owen, Children's Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI © Copyright 2017.
From Foreword Reviews :
Rodney simply cannot pay attention to his teacher while an open window beckons him to go outside, in Carmen Bogan’s Where’s Rodney? A city boy unused to the great outdoors, Rodney is awed and enchanted when a field trip takes him to a majestic park where he can finally be free to explore the wonders of nature, honored through beautifully depicted scenery and expressive portraiture from Floyd Cooper, all in soothing and dreamy textured earth tones.
“This exquisitely written and illustrated story allows us to journey into nature and into reverence in order to discover where and who we are. There is a little bit of Rodney in each of us really; his story helps us reclaim the healing power of nature.”
Nooshin Razani, MD MPH
Director, Center for Nature and Health
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland
Top customer reviews
This is a charming story - a boy has difficulty focusing and remaining at his desk at school, but is completely in tune when outdoors. As the environmental educator Erin Kenny said, "You can't bounce off the walls if there are no walls." Children are not meant to be confined to indoor spaces. And it's a notion that I wish more teachers and school administrators would grab on to and move their students outside for greater portions of the school day (it's surely a reason many parents opt to homeschool, unschool, or wildschool their kids, or send them to nature-based preschools or forest schools in their younger years).
Many teachers DO know the benefits of increased time outside, for play and instruction, yet are held back by the school system that wants them to push more and more work on students to ready them for standardized testing. But, students can and do learn subjects better when outside and can be more engaged in the subject at hand.
In this book, Rodney is asked during class what the word majestic means. He doesn't know, and the teacher ends up telling him.
Then, after exploring all there was to see during their field trip (to Yosemite, it appears), his teacher asks Rodney if he liked the park. His answer: "It's majestic." It's a simple yet powerful message: put learning outdoors and everyone will benefit from it!