Friday, July 13, 2007

painting not blogging....Moonpowder

Well, I just turned 40 and I have decided that it is better to paint (and meet my deadlines) than to spend my time blogging, updating my website and returning emails. So I apologize for the long delay between entries. Here are a few more paintings for my next book, Moonpowder. I have 2 more paintings to finish, and then I will re-visit each one to color correct, and tweak. After that, the book will be put together and a galley will be created which will be sent out to book buyers and reviewers. Once I see the finished galley (which is basically the finished unbound book) I will have one more chance to do some color correcting, and then I will wait for the finished book to come out in stores sometime next May. In the meantime I will be working on two more books. One is a science book (non-fiction) for Penguin, and the other is a book I am writing for Hyperion. I should also be receiving the manuscript for the next Percy Jackson book soon, so that I can illustrate the cover. That will be exciting. There are over a million copies in print right now! Lots to do, so if you don't here from me until the fall...enjoy the rest of the summer!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Howl's Moving Castle

I recently finished this painting for a re-packaging of Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle. I will also be doing a new jacket for her book Castle in the Air, as well as the latest in the series, which I cannot reveal the title. (But I read it, and it is good!) I am new to reading Diana's work, and I am already a fan. I saw the movie "Howl..." and it was hard to get those images out of my head when I was working on this cover. The first image is the initial sketch. The publisher liked the general direction, but wanted it to be a bright, sunny day in a lush green hillside. They also wanted me to place Sophie inside the castle. I gave in to the bright sunny day part, I think that will "pop" more. But I had to stick to my guns on keeping Sophie outside the Castle. If you have read the book, you know that Sophie is the tough one. She is the one who enters Howl's castle and reaks havoc, so I wanted her to look like she was in control of the situation somehow. As if she was the lone person standing in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square. The middle image is the final painting, and the last image is a detail.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Finally back to Painting

Well, I have finally gotten back to painting pictures for Moonpowder. This one takes place right after little Eli Treebuckle accidentally opens a Tornado Dispenser inside Mother Natures Closet. You know how that can be... I still have about 18 paintings to go for this book (including spots) and at last count there are going to be 44 paintings in this 40 pager. I have to finish the rest by July 24th, for it to be a spring 08 release.
On another note, I am headed up to Bank Street Books in NYC today to see Oliver Jeffers. (Author of Lost and Found, and The Incredible Book Eating Boy) I love his work, and this should be fun.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Book Reading in Brooklyn Sunday May 6th

I will signing at BookCourt on Sunday May 6th at Noon. BookCourt is at 163 Court St. between Pacific and Dean. BookCourt is a great neighborhood store in Cobble Hill and is surrounded by great places to eat, so if your around please stop by.

West Coast Book Tour

I just returned from a whirlwind trip to the West Coast, where I signed books, did some readings and met some great Librarians and Booksellers. One of the highlights was speaking at the Los Angeles Central Library to almost one hundred Children's Book Librarians about my work. Another highlight was visiting Hicklebees Bookstore in San Jose, CA. If you are excited about children's books, this place is your new mecca. They have fantastic artifacts from well known books tucked away in every obscure corner of the store. The back walls (near the offices and bathrooms) are covered with drawings and signatures of some of the most famous authors and illustrators of all time. I did a little doodle on the wall myself! Here are some photos from the events.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

West Coast Tour 4/16/07 thru 4/27/07

I will be heading out to the West coast to do some promotional events for the next couple weeks. Please check my homepage for locations and times.
If you are in the area, please stop by and say hello! With these type of events, the more the merrier.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Alex and the Ironic Gentlemen

This is the latest YA book jacket I have completed for the newly formed Weinstein Books.

Gollywhopper Jacket-final Painting

Sorry it took me so long to post this. I am catching up on things now...

Another painting for Moonpowder...

Barnes and Noble Signing

I had a great time at Barnes and Noble in Staten Island this past Sunday. Here are a couple of pics. You can see my daughter Alaya wanting to crawl up into my lap during the reading. She is obviously trying her best to distract me, but the show must go on!

Friday, February 23, 2007

new Moonpowder painting and detail

Here is the latest Moonpowder painting. It was fun creating this room for my little hero. The lighting is something that is important to the mood of the scene, and it took me a bit of time to get it right. I am not sure it totally works just yet, but it is close, and I will adjust the colors of all the paintings once they are all complete.
On another exciting note, I have been invited as a special guest to speak at the April meeting of the Children's Book Librarians of Los Angeles. I will have twenty minutes to speak about my work and I am thrilled about this opportunity. I moved from L.A. to NYC with the intention of creating children's books, and now I get to return to L.A. as a published author!
I have also been invited to do a book signing at the infamous children's bookstore, Hicklebees, in San Jose on April 25th.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wolf! Wolf! in the Bookstores!

This past weekend I had a big thrill. I walked into Books of Wonder in NYC and saw copies of my book on the shelves. My heart even skipped a beat when I looked down the isle and saw someone holding a copy of Wolf! Wolf! It took me another second to realize it was a close friend who was buying a copy. I signed the book for her daughter and went home with a silly grin.
I will be doing a book signing at Books of Wonder on March 17th from noon to 2pm, so if anyone is interested, please stop by and say hi.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Eli!!!

My nephew, Elijah, turns 2 years old tommorow and because the main character in my next picture book is named after him, I wanted to post the latest painting from that book.
Happy Birthday (and happy President's Day) Eli!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Moonpowder painting takes Grand Prize at SCBWI event

Every year for the last four years I have attended the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference in New York City. This year was no exception. The conference is a great way to meet new people in the industry, hear inspiring talks, and stay in touch with what is going on in the business. The hilights for me this year were, Brian Selznick talking about his latest book, Susan Cooper's Keynote, and Katherine Paterson's Keynote. I also attended two exceptional breakout sessions. One given by Chad Beckerman, on the art of jacket design, was a fantastic insight into the marketplace of YA jackets, as well as giving everyone some great tips on what makes a "striking" jacket. Mac Mcool gave an equally engaging talk on graphic novels. It was a very interactive breakout session as there were a few people in the audience who were also in the business of publishing graphic novels. And let's face it, the line between picture books and graphic novels is getting blurred every day.
Saturday night was the annual New York Showcase, where illustrators can submit a piece of children's book art for display, and industry proffessionals come and check it out. This year I entered one of the paintings from my next book, "Moonpowder" and was pleasantly suprised to win the Grand Prize for the second time! (I won it in 2004 as well) Thank you SCBWI !!

Wolf! Wolf! Book Party!!!

The day is finally here! The first book I have authored and illustrated, "Wolf! Wolf!" is about to be distibuted to bookstores across the country. (March 01,2007 release). And to celebrate this long awaited event. I am having a party/reading/signing/gallery show at a children's store called Pomme in the heart of DUMBO (near Brooklyn Heights). The party is on friday, March 2nd from 5pm-8pm and is open to the public. So if you are in the area, please come by and say hello.

Friday, February 02, 2007 updated

I have finally updated my website! It has an expanded Wolf! Wolf! section for the release of my book on March 1.
Any comments are welcome.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gollywhopper Games Book Jacket

I just got a recent book jacket sketch approved. And here it is. It is another book for Greenwillow. It is a fun, adventurous story that has a Willy Wonka feel to it. A bunch of kids compete in a game/contest inside a giant, fantasy filled toy store.
I put a lot of time into the color sketch because I wanted a pretty detailed road map for the final painting. I should be able to post the final in a couple weeks.
In the meantime, I am putting the final tweaks on another exciting book jacket for a book called Alex and the Ironic Gentleman.

On a lighter note, my 9 month old daughter saw her first snowfall today. The wonder in her eyes made my day. Time to starting waxing the sled!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Review from School Library Journal

Here is a recent review that will be in the February issue of School Library Journal.
Hyperion Reviews in School Library Journal, February, 2007
ROCCO, John. Wolf! Wolf! illus. by author. unpaged. Hyperion. Mar. 2007. RTE $15.99. ISBN 1-4231-0012-3. LC number unavailable.

K-Gr 3–This twisted treatment of Aesop’s fable flips everything readers know about the boy who cried wolf on its head and ends up where they never would have expected. From the brushstrokes of the hand-lettered title to the pink cherry blossoms featured with the wolf and the boy on the cover, ancient China unfolds as the stage and setting for this story. In this variant, children get a little insight into the wolf’s point of view: When the boy cries “WOLF! WOLF!” the slightly deaf animal believes he is being summoned. He feels tricked by the youngster when the angry villagers arrive looking for a menacing creature. The poor animal is only looking for a tasty meal, possibly one of the boy’s goats since his garden has fallen into disarray. In the end, the boy gives the old wolf a goat; instead of making him a one-time-only meal, the wolf puts him to work in his garden, and the two become friends. The wolf is a fully anthropomorphized character, complete with red silk jacket and shade umbrella. The purposeful use of frames, unusual setting, and visual humor makes this an excellent addition to any collection and a particularly interesting launching point for many discussions and investigations into fractured tales.–Genevieve Gallagher, Murray Elementary School, Charlottesville, VA