Wednesday, April 23, 2008

FIT judging

I had the pleasure of judging the senior illustration exhibit last week at the Fashion Institute of Technology. There were some incredible illustrations to choose from. There were about eight of us judging and most were faculty from FIT. In the end I think we chose some very well executed illustrations as the winners. One of the illustrations that I liked very much was a digital painting that looked like something from the production design of an animated film. It was beautiful, and yet had the unfinished look of production art that is so common. In judging the show, I had to ask myself "would I hire this person to illustrate_______(insert job here) ie: children's book, editorial, advertising etc. It was a great day of looking at art, meeting new illustrators and eating bags of bagels!

On another note, here is a picture of me and my editor, Namrata Tripathi (left) and my art director, Christine Kettner, at the Border Concept store in Ann Arbor, MI. I wish every Borders had that many copies of my book!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Borders OV awards

I just got back from Ann Arbor MI where I received my Original Voices Award from the fine people at Borders bookstores. The event was really great, and it took place at one of their new "concept" stores which had all the bells and whistles of a theme park for books! My editor, Nami, and my art director, Christine, where there with me which was great because it was a whirlwind day. First stop was the Borders headquarters where I had lunch with the ten committee members who chose my book as this years winner. Next we got a tour of the concept store, then in the back of the store there was a little stage along with giant posters of the four winning book jackets. (Fiction, Non-Fiction, YA/independent reader, and Picture Book). Around 5 o'clock the crowd started building and the award ceremony began. I was up first and here is the speech I read:

When I was 7 years old I won a coloring contest at a toy store in my hometown. I found out when I received an envelope in the mail with my name on it. Inside was a note of congratulations AND a gift certificate for $15 to use in the store. My math might be suspect but in 1974 that was equivalent to about $1 million dollars. I was bouncing of the walls. It was two agonizing days before my mother actually drove me to the store so that I could clean out their stock of super-balls, bat kites and balsa wood gliders.

When we arrived at the store, I jumped out of the car and ran towards the door, ready to set their cash registers ablaze, but I stopped dead in my tracks. There, hanging in the window of the Ben Franklin 5 and Dime was my Art. First prize…John Rocco…7 years old.
I stood there staring at it, filling up with pride till I was about to burst, knees shaking, eyes starting to burn. My mother stood smiling, holding the door open for me. I calmly walked in and bought $15 dollars worth of crayons and construction paper.

33 years later, I walk in to a Borders in Los Angeles, about to give one of my first public readings of the first book I had ever written. There was a sign announcing my arrival, as well as a borders employee standing just inside the door holding a copy of Wolf! Wolf! and telling everyone who walked in the door about the reading. He was about to tell me about the reading, then a look of recognition came over his face. “Welcome to Borders Mr. Rocco, were so glad you could come read your book today. We all love it.” I felt 7 years old again, but in a good way. Overcome with the kind of pride and joy that Seven year olds can only express by bouncing around as if they have to pee real bad.

First off, I would like to thank my fantastic teammates at Hyperion. Namrata Tripathi, my fabulous editor, for helping me find my voice. Christine Kettner, my savvy Art Director, for gently guiding my vision. And everyone else at Hyperion who make creating books for children such a joy.

I would also like to thank Borders, not only for this incredible honor, but for making me feel seven years old again…in a good way.
Thank You.

I was presented with the award which is actually a copy of my book encased in glass, which I thought was really cool. I will always have a pristine copy of my book in it's own little time capsule. I will try to post pictures soon. (My camera

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

PS 58 photos

Here are some photos of my recent visit to PS 58 in Brooklyn...

This is me and Giselle Gault, the principal of PS 58. The last time I was this close to a principal I was getting detention! She was super enthusiastic and I did NOT get detention.

I even got to try out their 1950's intercom system. Still in working order, no less.

Monday, April 07, 2008

PS 58 School Visit

I had a great time speaking to about 90 kids at the Carroll School (PS 58) last week. Their teachers had been prepping them all week, so when I arrived these guys and gals knew their stuff! I was especially thrilled with the audible gasps of excitement when I pulled out Moonpowder to read to them. I hadn't realized that the teachers had galley copies of the book (which doesn't come out until May 27th) and had been reading to the kids. I signed about 120 copies of Wolf! Wolf! and I think everyone had a good time. I know I did! Thanks PS 58!

Children's Literature Conference in WA

At the beginning of March I was a speaker at the Bond Children's literature conference in Bellingham Washington. It was a fantastic event and about 400 wonderfully enthusiastic teachers and librarians and fans of children's books attended. The other speakers were, Chris Crutcher, Christopher Paul Curtis and Eric Rohmann. Needless to say I was in some pretty decorated company. Between them they have a Caldecott Medal (ER), a Newbery Medal(CPC), Coretta Scott King Award (CPC) and the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement (CC). At first I was slightly intimidated, but these guys were great and made me feel right at home. One of the highlights for me was having a quiet breakfast Sunday morning with Eric while we discussed my next book projects. He had some terrific ideas and we had a great time discussing the art of the picture book. I look forward to meeting up with these guys again in the near future!