by Jim Carrey
Rob Nason, illustrator
Inside Jacket: How Roland Rolls is a story about a wave named Roland who’s afraid that, one day, then he hits the beach, his life will be over. But when he gets deep, he’s struck by the notion he’s not just a wave—he’s the whole bug, wide ocean.
Opening: Somewhere . . . in the middle of the sea, a wave named Roland ce to be.
About the Story: Roland is a wave in the ocean who loves to play around the sea with other wave friends. Then one day, a huge ship cut through the waves, splitting Roland from his friends. He never saw them again. Then a whale jumped, landing Roland causing him to splash all over the ocean. Terrified, Roland thought of his worse fear: a humungous wave called Gnarly will splash on top of him and send him in multiple directions.
When Gnarly finally came around, he bit into a sailboat and left Roland alone. Without his friends, a lonely Roland was saved by an old sea bird. The seabird introduced Roland to his wave friends, one of whom was Shimmer. The two waves fell in love and spent countless hours splashing in the ocean. With this newfound happiness, another of Roland’s fears surfaced. He was afraid of hitting the coast, believing it would be the end of his life.
When Roland and Shimmer finally did hit the coast, the two waves became one and as they rolled back out to sea, they got bigger and bigger. Roland finally realized he was the entire ocean and wherever you find water, you find Roland. He realized every wave he ever knew was right there with him and every wave was important and part of the whole.
What I Thought: How Roland Rolls has a few problems. A traditional picture book is 32 pages, but How Roland Rolls is a hefty 68. The pages stick together, rather than turning smoothly and quietly, not disturb the story. If reading aloud, stopping to fight with a sticky page interrupts the flow of any character voices the reader might be using. This disruption is like any other. It will bring a child’s attention away from the story. The mood is wrecked.
Lastly, I do not like an author telling me what the story is about at the end, as if I am too stupid to figure it out on my own. That, I am sure, was not the author’s intent, but it does have that affect. Instead of leaving me to think about the story and its meaning for me—for my child—or allowing me to interpret its meaning for myself, I get this:
“Like Roland and Shimmer you will always belong, if you think you’re just one little wave . . . you’re just wrong. You’re like Roland, and you’ll always be rollin’ along.” (Illustration has kids and a dog in the water playing).
With that said, I like Roland’s story. I like how he felt good about himself as a wave and he had friends that he loved. Then, like all great books, a tragedy occurs, then a bigger tragedy, and then the final crisis. With each battle, the main character changes, even if a little. Roland goes from a happy wave to a lonely and fearful wave. Then he is joyous with Shimmer but the good must end at least one more time. Roland has not changed enough. So one last crisis happens and with it, Roland has another, more terrifying fear: death.
Roland and Shimmer hit the shore but then roll back out to sea. Granted he did nothing to make this happen, as main characters should but I am letting that slide. Roland’s action was facing his fear, which he did. Then he makes the grand insight we hope all our beloved characters make: the ocean is one wave, not a bunch of little waves and maybe a few big ones. Every wave is important, and needed, and lives on with each other.
I do like the spread that opens into a 4-page spread to emphasizing the large ship separating Roland from his friends. The illustrations are bright with lots of action in a sea of light blue. How Roland Rolls is a beautiful book. The text is larger than normal making it easier to see and read. Take off the jacket and you have the same look. This is one proof of high production values.
I think Mr. Carrey is trying to explain a philosophical interconnectivity that translates into all of us being a part of the whole, making each of us the whole in addition to the part, therefore death transcends us. Yeah, I didn’t get that either. I applaud the attempt to explain how we are responsible for each other and cannot exist in a vacuum. Young children are not ready for this and my guess is they will not understand it even after a parent tries to explain. Still, How Roland Rolls is a story of friendship, unity, and self-esteem, but it is a tad too quirky, and dare I say “too deep,” for its intended age group.
The author, Jim Carrey, has a long resume of television and movie credits, winning several Hollywood awards. Mr. Carrey is also an active humanitarian through A Better U Foundation, which had “the goal of promoting transformational and sustainable ideas that can improve the lives of people around the world.” Currently, the organization is involved with the sustainable production of rice through a method called the “System of Rice Intensification or SRI.” How Roland Rolls is Mr. Carrey’s first children’s book.
Some Kind of Garden Media website
Age 4 to 8
© 2013 by Jim Carrey, used with permission
Text copyright © 2013 by Jim Carrey
Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Rob Nason
- Jim Carrey Releasing First Children’s Book How Roland Rolls–Take a Look! (eonline.com)
- Jim Carrey Chats with Role Mommy About His Latest Adventure… (rolemommy.com)
- How Roland Rolls (bergersbookreviews.com)
- Cynic’s Paul Masvidal Produced Music for Jim Carrey’s Children’s Book How Roland Rolls (metalsucks.net)
- Jim Carrey Releases Children’s Book ‘How Roland Rolls’ (aceshowbiz.com)
- Jim Carrey, children’s author, still ‘Dumb’ (wdsu.com)