Happy Birthday, John Rocco - July 9
Picture Book Month 2012). I don't think I have heard the act of reading picture books to a child described any better.
John Rocco has illustrated eight picture books including the 2012 Caldecott Honor Book, Blackout, which is one of five books in which he was also the author. He also has illustrated the popular chapter book series by Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, and The Heroes of Olympus. Rocco's story of becoming a children's book illustrator is unique. He didn't start "seriously" drawing until the age of 19. (Roccoart.com). Additionally, he illustrated his first picture book in 1992, Alice by Whoopi Goldberg, after graduating from School of Visual Arts in New York, but did not illustrate another until 2005 when he designed the cover for The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (Orlando Museum of Art).
John Rocco was quite busy during the time between Alice and The Lightning Thief. He designed theme park attractions for Disney, served as pre-production art director for the DreamWorks animated film, Shrek, and worked on many other television and video game projects. (Mazza Museum Keynote, Fall Conference 2013).
At the age of 38 Rocco decided he wanted to move back to New York with his wife, Aileen Leijten, who also illustrates children's books. In 2007, he was back publishing picture books with Wolf! Wolf!, an imaginative recreation of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. John Rocco said at the Mazza Museum Fall Conference 2013 that a series of "what if?" questions led him to tell a story that was set in China told from the point of view of a wolf who was old and loved vegetables. (I told you it was imaginative!)
Moonpowder, published in 2008. In this story, Eli is having trouble with a reoccurring nightmare and vows to never sleep again. He is up late tinkering with his inventions when he is visited by Mr. Moon. Mr. Moon is aware of Eli's uncanny ability to "fix all things fixable" and tells him that the Moonpowder Factory is not working which is why he was having trouble with nightmares. Moonpowder ensures that children will have sweet dreams. Eli and Mr. Moon travel to the Moonpowder factory and discover that the Dream Tank is empty which is not good because the only remaining Moonpowder is supposedly in the S.E.D.K. (Special Emergency Dream Kit) that is in Mother Nature's closet. Mr. Moon needs Eli's help to recover the Moonpowder to get the factory started again to keep nightmares away from the children of Earth.
I had an idea for a family reading experience that I never dreamed would be so much fun and exciting for my children. We were going to make a S.E.D.K. (Special Emergency Dream Kit) and fill it with Moonpowder to ensure that we never run out. We don't want any nightmares!
|I found a small wooden chest in our craft box that I picked up at a garage sale last year.|
|My boys worked together to decoupage red tissue paper on the outside of the box to turn this ordinary wooden box into the S.E.D.K.|
|Then, we reviewed the illustration from the book on how to create Moonpowder. We needed sweet dreams, starlight, and moon dust.|
|Next, we needed to add starlight. We found silver stars in the glitter aisle at Michael's that were perfect for starlight.|
|We also added all different colors of glitter to represent starlight.|
|Lastly, we needed moon dust. We used white decorative sand to represent the moon dust.|
|This was a blast! A messy blast!|
|It was nothing the handheld sweeper couldn't handle. "Dad, that's loud!"|
|Do you follow Happy Birthday Author on Pinterest? Please pin this picture.|
|In our pretend blackout, we lit candles and played a board game together.|
|We also read Blackout by candlelight.|
|It wasn't a "normal" thing to do on a summer night during the week of John Rocco's birthday. But, "not everyone likes normal."|
1. John Rocco's website
2. John Rocco's Blog
3. Follow John Rocco on Twitter
4. Trailers - Blackout, Fu Finds the Way, The Flint Heart
5. John Rocco talks with Jay Primiano about SWIM THAT ROCK - YouTube via Candlewick
6. John Rocco "Committed to Telling Stories" - Publishing Perspectives
7. Interviews - Seven Impossible Things Blog, Candlewick, Lee Wind