Frisco Police Officer Radd Rotello left for work with a copy of “Princess Baby,” a picture book by Karen Katz, in his possession.
This inspired some attention from his daughter.
“I’m going to give it back, I promise,” Rotello told her. “I’m making a video.”
Later on, she would see her dad in a video reading one of her favorite books out loud, complete with inflections and sing-songy voicing that conjured up the character of a young girl who insists on one name only.
Rotello recorded the video with the Frisco Public Library, and he did it all in one take.
“I've had enough practice reading that particular book to one person over and over again, so it was pretty easy to just imagine her listening while I'm looking at the camera,” Rotello said. “And I'm reading it to her in my mind, and that's something that I hope really translates to any of the kids that watch it, because I know that just everything that's going on today, kids are pretty unsure of themselves, and I think a program like this really shows the kids that they're not alone.”
Rotello said he heard about the opportunity from Sgt. Evan Mattei, who had recorded a similar video reading a favorite from his family: “I Really Like Slop!” The book features an adventurous pig and a careful elephant, which meant Mattei’s character voice often switched from high and sweet to low and strong.
“I know that was probably a little silly,” Mattei said at the end of the video, “but that’s the way that we read it at our house.”
When Mattei asked Rotello if he was interested in making a similar video, the officer was on board.
As Rotello reads “Princess Baby,” he adds some moving rhythm, even a haughty flip of the tongue on the word “real.” His mastery of voices comes with a good amount of storytime experience, like the made-up narratives he conjured for his son when he wanted the kind of specific stories you couldn’t find in books.
“I ended up giving the characters voices as we would go along, and that just kind of carried over with my daughter's books,” he said, “but that's something that really just kind of came with becoming a dad. You start getting voices going for everybody.”