© 2005 by Thomas F. Yezerski


Rose and Riley

  • written by Jane Cutler
  • illustrated by Thomas F. Yezerski
  • Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005
  • 48 pp., full-color illustrations
  • ages 6-8
  • ISBN-10: 0-374-36340-4
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-374-36340-6


Rose and Riley are good friends. Rose is a vole, with a little, round body, skinny arms, and long feet. She has good ideas for things to do, but she sometimes worries too much. Riley is a groundhog, big and furry, with stumpy arms and legs. He just likes to have fun, but he sometimes needs Rose’s help to figure things out. Rose and Riley see life differently, but they are always there for each other.

In “The Un-Birthday Party,” Rose gets the idea to have a party on a day that’s not her birthday. Then Riley wants to have a party. They imagine what it would be like if everyone had un-birthday parties every day. There are three stories in Rose and Riley. The first story is just called “Rose and Riley,” like the book. Rose and Riley want to have fun outside on a sunny day. Rose keeps her umbrella open to be ready for rain. Riley leaves his umbrella at home. Rose is so worried in “The Worry Dolls,” that she can’t do anything but lie on the couch. Then Riley is worried about Rose. He goes home to make dolls for his friend to tell her worries to.

Reviews and Awards

Gold Award
— Oppenheim Toy Portfolio
Cutler’s narrative is concise and smooth, her descriptions inducing sight, taste, and touch sensations without taking over for the illustrations. Yezerski’s line-and-watercolor art displays a delicate clouding of earthy colors that gives the images a gentle, pensive air, and Rose’s and Riley’s wide faces and tiny eyes topped with wisps of eyebrows contribute to the innocent appeal. The distinction between Rose’s sticklike arms and tiny, round body and Riley’s burly frame and bulky stomach lends a poignancy to their friendship, within which both participants are accepted and appreciated (though strong-minded Rose is most deinitely in the driver’s seat). Though the last two stories end with a wink rather than a punchline, the warmth of the relationship makes rereading worthwhile.
— Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
A book that goes way beyond the formulaic is Rose and Riley . . . The whole Rose and Riley package, with Yezerski’s gentle watercolors and Cutler’s fresh writing style, is reminiscent of Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel and A Birthday for Francis by Lillian Hoban. It’s droll and delightful fare for the emergent reader looking for something that’s not just by the book.
— San Francisco Chronicle
Throughout the book, there is a feeling of how comforting it is to have a friend. Soft pastel illustrations add to the warmth of the text while repetition eases the decoding. A sweet, thoughtful offering with two memorable characters.
— School Library Journal
Yezerski’s soft pastels have just enough charm, energy and cuteness to match the gentle stories.
— Kirkus Reviews

© 2005 by Thomas F. Yezerski


Rose and Riley was the first easy-reader I illustrated — and the first one I read. My editor, Margaret Ferguson, sent the stories to me and asked me to come up with characters to go with the words. The only rule was that they had to be animals. As soon as I read it, I knew Rose and Riley had different personalities. I thought they should look very different, too. I also saw how funny they were. Because of Jane Cutler’s great writing, I could tell what Rose and Riley were thinking when they weren’t rude enough say it. They were so polite to each other, even when one wasn’t being very smart. I thought that was the meaning of real friendship. Rose and Riley always go out of their way to help each other without making each other feel stupid. I tried making characters who might look silly to each other, because I thought it would be even funnier and touching that they never mention each other’s faults. Margaret and Jane liked the pictures I sent (one ended up being the picture on page 7), so they let me illustrate the whole book!