john rocco


New York Times Bestseller
Winner of The Caldecott Honor
New York Times Best Book of the Year
Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year
Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Kirkus Best Book of the Year
Junior Library Guild Selection
Indie Next List Selection
ALA Notable Book
Film rights to Fox2000 for live action feature

“Warm and sweet…an argument for turning off devices and spending more time with people.”
The New York Times

One hot summer night in the city, all the power goes out. The TV shuts off and a boy wails, "Mommm!" His sister can no longer use the phone, Mom can't work on her computer, and Dad can't finish cooking dinner. What's a family to do? When they go up to the roof to escape the heat, they find the lights--in stars that can be seen for a change--and so many neighbors it's like a block party in the sky!

 Using a combination of panels and full bleed illustrations that move from color to black-and-white and back to color, John Rocco shows that if we are willing to put our cares aside for a while, there is party potential in a summer blackout.

John Rocco is an award-winning New York Times Bestselling author and illustrator of many acclaimed books for children including Blackout, a winner of the Caldecott Honor, Blizzard, Wolf! Wolf!, winner of the Borders Original Voices Award for best picture book; Fu Finds The Way, and Moonpowder.  Rocco illustrates the covers for Rick Riordan's international bestselling series Percy Jackson and the OlympiansThe Kane Chronicles, The Heroes of Olympus, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, and The Trials of Apollo which have sold over 50 million copies worldwide, and he creates all the artwork for Riordan’s #1 New York Times bestselling illustrated Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods and Greek Heroes books.

For many years Rocco was an art director in the entertainment industry, both in the US and abroad. At Dreamworks, Rocco was the pre-production art director on the top-grossing animated film Shrek. For Walt Disney Imagineering, he designed attractions at Disney's Epcot and served as art director for DisneyQuest, a virtual reality theme park in Downtown Disney. Rocco has worked with computer graphics pioneer Robert Abel, the creator of some of the first CGI commercials and special effects, and contributed to several museum projects including Newseum in Washington D.C. and Paul Allen's Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.

Published by Disney-Hyperion in 2011.

More praise for Blackout:

“Rocco evokes the strangeness and awe of a city when the lights go out…”  — The Wall Street Journal

“Sublime…Rocco gets everything right.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Engaging…Brilliantly designed.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Great bedtime reading… — School Library Journal,starred review



Wall Street Journal Best Book
Boston Globe Best Book
Kirkus Best Book
Amazon Best Book
Junior Library Guild Selection

Blizzard is based on John Rocco's childhood experience during the now infamous Blizzard of 1978, which brought fifty-three inches of snow to his town in Rhode Island. Told with a brief text and dynamic illustrations, the book opens with a boy's excitement upon seeing the first snowflake fall outside his classroom window. It ends with the neighborhood's immense relief upon seeing the first snowplow break through on their street. In between the boy watches his familiar landscape transform into something alien, and readers watch him transform into a hero who puts the needs of others first. This book about the wonder of a winter storm is as delicious as a mug of hot cocoa by the fire on a snowy day.

Published by Disney-Hyperion in 2014.

More praise for Blizzard:

“Young readers will be tickled.”—Kirkus, starred review

“The story is an adventure.”—Booklist, starred review

“Blizzard celebrates that miraculous convergence of reality and dream.”—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review


Super Hair-O

“With a light, humorous touch, Rocco reveals that sometimes the Kryptonite is all in your head.” — Publishers Weekly

Every super hero gets his powers from somewhere. The young hero of this book, Rocco, thinks his abilities come from his shock of red hair, and the longer it gets, the stronger he becomes. He even has a posse of super friends with wild hair of their own. Our hero is unstoppable--until the day he's dragged to the super evil villain's lair and robbed of his powers. How will he face his friends? Will he ever regain his super hero-ness? A girl who has been watching all along offers the gang a chance to save the day and get their groove back. 

With bold images that burst with energy from white backgrounds and narration as earnest as Superman himself, Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom is a feel-good and funny book for emergent comic book fans and parents who grew up on them.

Published by Disney-Hyperion in 2013.

More praise for Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom:

“This story will make a feel-good impression on budding comic book/superhero fans.” — School Library Journal


Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes

By Rick Riordan
Illustrated by John Rocco

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Who cut off Medusa's head? Who was raised by a she-bear? Who tamed Pegasus? It takes a demigod to know, and Percy Jackson can fill you in on the all the daring deeds of Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, and the rest of the major Greek heroes.

Published by Disney-Hyperion in 2015.


Percy Jackson’s Greek gods

By Rick Riordan
Illustrated by John Rocco

#1 New York Times Bestseller

“Percy’s gift…is to breathe new life into the gods…Riordan has a sure touch…as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning.” — Kirkus Reviews

A publisher in New York asked me to write down what I know about the Greek gods, and I was like, Can we do this anonymously? Because I don't need the Olympians mad at me again. But if it helps you to know your Greek gods, and survive an encounter with them if they ever show up in your face, then I guess writing all this down will be my good deed for the week. 

So begins Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, in which the son of Poseidon adds his own magic—and sarcastic asides—to the classics. He explains how the world was created, then gives readers his personal take on a who's who of ancients, from Apollo to Zeus. Percy does not hold back. "If you like horror shows, blood baths, lying, stealing, backstabbing, and cannibalism, then read on, because it definitely was a Golden Age for all that." 

Published by Disney-Hyperion in 2016.

More praise for Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods:

“The age-old stories are endlessly strong, resonant, and surprising, while the telling here is fresh, irreverent, and amusing. This hefty volume is also a tall, handsome one, with fine paper, richly colorful full-page and spot pictures, and simple, attractive borders on pages of text. John Rocco…illustrates the myths with drama, verve, and clarity. A must-have addition to the Percy Jackson canon.” — Booklist


Fu Finds The Way

“Magical… well-written.” — School Library Journal

When young Fu is challenged to a duel by the warrior Chang, Fu panics. His only hope is that the Master will train him, just as he’s trained all the warriors of the village. But instead of teaching Fu to fight, the Master teaches him... to pour tea. Fu learns purpose, flow, and patience in the process, but will it be enough to defeat the mighty Chang?

Published by Hyperion in 2009.



“Fabulous…inventive…sweet and satisfying. This will sustain many readings.” — Booklist

Young Eli Trebuckle is the “fixer of all things fixable.” He fixes the vacuum cleaner, the fan, and even the radio, hoping to catch some news of his father who is away at war. But there’s one thing that Eli simply can’t fix—his bad dreams. It’s the same one over and over again: a mountain of junk, a prize just beyond his reach, and a fall.

One night as Eli stays up late to work on his most recent invention and escape another nightmare, a mysterious, luminous, and somewhat bumbling man by the name of Mr. Moon appears at his window. He knows just what the matter with Eli is and promises to help him, if he can fix one more thing…

And so Eli Trebuckle makes the journey to the broken Moonpowder factory. If he can get it up and running, he can ensure that the whole world will have sweet dreams! But can Eli face his greatest fears and meet the biggest challenge of his lifetime? With inspiring courage, determination, and a little faith, Eli proves that, happily, the answer is yes.

Published by Hyperion in 2008.


Wolf! Wolf!

“The purposeful use of frames, unusual setting, and visual humor makes this an excellent addition to any collection.” — School Library Journal

The hungry old wolf has been dreaming of a feast, but all he can manage to scrounge up from his garden are a few weeds. One day, he hears a young shepherd boy call “Wolf! Wolf!” Could it be that the boy is inviting him over for lunch? This hilarious retelling with a twist, of the classic Aesop’s fable is sure to delight a new generation of readers and vegetarians.

Published by Hyperion in 2007.


Swim That Rock 

By John Rocco and Jay Primiano

A finalist for the New England Book Award

“[An] entertaining coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the New England fishing industry. ... Steeped in atmosphere and rich in detail, this adventure captures the salt in the air as well as the omnipresent ticking deadline. ... Jack's struggle is easily relatable thanks to deft characterizations and an overall sense of authenticity.”
Publishers Weekly

When his dad goes missing in a fishing-boat accident, fourteen-year-old Jake refuses to think he may have lost his father forever. But suddenly, nothing seems certain in Jake’s future, and now his family’s diner may be repossessed by loan sharks. In Narragansett Bay, scrabbling out a living as a quahogger isn’t easy, but with the help of some local clammers, Jake is determined to work hard and earn enough money to ensure his family’s security and save the diner in time. Told with cinematic suspense and a true compassion for the characters, Swim That Rock is a fast-paced coming-of-age story that beautifully and evocatively captures the essence of coastal Rhode Island life, the struggles of blue-collar family dynamics, and the dreams of one boy to come into his own.

Published by Candlewick in 2014.

More praise for Swim That Rock:

“An affable coming-of-age novel… Jake’s voice is credible and appealing. Particularly touching is his developing relationship with Darcy, a waitress who swears long sleeves to conceal her arms, one of which is badly burned. Darcy’s scars, like Jake’s ungainliness, can be read as any flaw that preoccupies an ill-at-ease teenager. But their story offers a way toward self-acceptance.” — The New York Times Book Review

“Swim That Rock is a brilliantly crafted page-turner and heartwarming story of friendship and family – full of storms, mystery, danger, mobsters, and even the odd pirate. Like the New England quahoggers in their novel, John Rocco and Jay Primiano know how to bring the boat in full. Humor, adventure, wonderful characters, stakes that matter, and a setting so lovingly described you can taste the salt in the air – Swim That Rock is a rare catch.”
Rick Riordan

“Jake and his friends are extremely likable and the teen characters are all well-developed. This is a well-written and exciting action and adventure story that will be sure to please middle school boys who are looking for an engaging read. Rocco and Primiano have written a novel that will appeal, so be sure to hand it to all your male readers.” — Library Media Connection

“The rich imagery of life in a fishing town, combined with action that primarily revolves around intense quahogging expeditions, makes this a refreshingly unique read.” — School Library Journal

“Landlubbers who think they won’t give a rip for a novel about clamming have another think coming. ... Like all good maritime novels, this one will have landlocked kids pining for a strong gust of salt spray.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Readers will be hooked by the exciting opening scene as a hurricane rips the shore and Captain takes Jake out on the dangerous waters to pirate motors from sinking boats. With a lushly detailed sense of place and character, the story delineates the struggle of a boy coming to terms with his situation.”
The Horn Book

“[T]he distinct, clearly realized setting details distinguish this title from the vast schools of novels for young teens swimming in the publishing sea... Fills the bill for teens looking for an atypical action adventure.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Jake’s willingness to work wicked hard on both sides of the law to remain part of his Narragansett Bay community is vividly conveyed... The coauthors incorporate autobiographical elements, which lend the tale’s cast and setting a salty authenticity.” — Booklist

“The authors, both experienced quahoggers, capture the hard labor and satisfaction of working on the water. Teen readers will get caught up in the danger, action and hint of romance in this novel vividly set in the Ocean State.” — The Providence Journal


The Flint Heart

By Katherine Paterson & John Paterson
Illustrated by John Rocco

“Enchanting...A crowd-pleaser brimming with action, magic, and wit.” — Disney FamilyFun

A robust and wildly entertaining fairy tale, freely abridged from Eden Phillpotts's 1910 fantasy and wryly retold by Katherine and John Paterson.

An ambitious Stone Age man demands a talisman that will harden his heart, allowing him to take control of his tribe. Against his better judgment, the tribe's magic man creates the Flint Heart, but the cruelty of it causes the destruction of the tribe. Thousands of years later, the talisman reemerges to corrupt a kindly farmer, an innocent fairy creature, and a familial badger. Can Charles and his sister Unity, who have consulted with fairies such as the mysterious Zagabog, wisest creature in the universe, find a way to rescue humans, fairies, and animals alike from the dark influence of the Flint Heart? This humorous, hearty, utterly delightful fairy tale is the sort for an entire family to savor together or an adventurous youngster to devour.

Published by Candlewick in 2012.

More praise for The Flint Heart:

“Magical adventure...A grand tale skillfully updated and tightened up, this should win the hearts of a new generation.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Told in the voice of a storyteller in the style of A. A. Milne or J. M. Barrie, the tale will make an excellent read-aloud. . . . The Patersons have done a lovely job updating and abridging this tale for today's readers.” — School Library Journal (starred review)

“The Patersons have done a stellar job of maintaining the book's period feel while creating a fresher, tighter story that feels tailor-made for family reading.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)


How to Train a Train 

By James Carter Eaton
Illustrated by John Rocco

“A guidebook that teaches children how to capture and tame wild trains. ... Jason Carter Eaton's deadpan prose is calibrated just-so. He wisely leaves the abundant belly laughs to John Rocco's paintings, which have their own zany style...” — The New York Times Book Review

Everything you need to know about finding, keeping, and training your very own pet train.

Finding advice on caring for a dog, a cat, a fish, even a dinosaur is easy. But what if somebody’s taste in pets runs to the more mechanical kind? What about those who like cogs and gears more than feathers and fur? People who prefer the call of a train whistle to the squeal of a guinea pig? Or maybe dream of a smudge of soot on their cheek, not slobber? In this spectacularly illustrated picture book, kids who love locomotives (and what kid doesn’t?) will discover where trains live, what they like to eat, and the best train tricks around—everything it takes to lay the tracks for a long and happy friendship. All aboard!

Published by Candlewick in 2013.

More praise for How to Train a Train:

“Juxtaposing sensible tips with the absurdity of a huge pet locomotive creates a text that is at once believable and preposterous. ... But what really makes this concept roar down the track are the entrancing digitally colored illustrations that perfectly capture the expressiveness and playfulness of the pet trains. ... [T]his book is sure to be popular with train and pet lovers alike.” — School Library Journal, starred review

“Train and pet enthusiasts alike will delight in this rollicking story about selecting, naming, soothing and caring for a full-sized locomotive. ... With believable expressiveness in the characterizations of the trains and a scale perfect for groups, this affectionate sendup communicates all the exasperation, responsibility and rewards of having a pet.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Eaton’s tongue-in-cheek—and eminently enjoyable text—is matched by Rocco’s smooth and sleek artwork laced with whimsy.”
Booklist, starred review

“An immersive experience for junior rail fans.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Eaton's fanciful, funny text is perfectly accompanied by John Rocco's energetic illustrations. ... This book is sure to be a huge hit with young railroad enthusiasts everywhere.” — BookPage

“The conversational text is exploded by John Rocco’s zany, digitally colored illustrations. Learn about how these mysterious beasts travel (freights move in herds, monorails alone) and what you need to trap them (big nets are good, quicksand works, but smoke signals are best).” The Washington Post


Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep

By Todd Tarpley
Illustrated by John Rocco

A playful robot bedtime story, illustrated by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco!

Quiet at last. Not a peep. Three little robots are... BEEP! BEEP!

When his three rambunctious robots give every possible excuse not to go to sleep, what's a little boy to do? With a fun refrain that will have readers of all ages chanting along, here's a book that kids will be begging to read every night before bed.

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in 2015.

Praise for Beep Beep! Go to Sleep!:

 “A delightful tale of bedtime role-reversal that sharp youngsters will appreciate.” — School Library Journal

 “Wonderfully entertaining.” ― Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A tricksy and playful rhyming robot bedtime story that will power down the little ones.” ― Kirkus Reviews


How to Track a Truck 

By Jason Carter Eaton
Illustrated by John Rocco

For kids who love trucks, here comes the definitive guide to catching and taming one of your own from the creators of the hit picture book How to Train a Train.

Want a pet truck? Rumble up to this handy guidebook offering everything you need to know. Bone up on habitat: monster trucks like abandoned parking lots; moving trucks live in busy neighborhoods; ice-cream trucks and snowplows migrate in the winter. Pick the right breed for your home (a car transporter in a small apartment would not be a wise choice). Learn to identify your truck by its tire tracks, and soon, with the lure of some orange cones, you’ll have a loyal vehicle following you home, a happy hum under its hood. With an eighteen-wheeler-size nod to pet-care guides, Jason Carter Eaton and John Rocco put young readers in the driver’s seat for a road trip to truck-dreamer bliss.

Published by Candlewick in 2016.

Praise for How to Track a Truck:

“The vibrant colors are bold on the pages, inviting readers in. A lovely storytime read-aloud. Children will be lining up to check this out. Another must-have for fans of titles about vehicles.” — School Library Journal


Big Machines

By Sherri Sherri Duskey Rinker
Illustrated by John Rocco

“The beautiful symbiosis of text and art works on several levels…Alive, bursting with color and action, this volume introduces Virginia Lee Burton to a new generation of big machine enthusiasts.” — Kirkus, starred review

New York Times best-selling creators Sherri Duskey Rinker and John Rocco pay homage to the storied life of one of the most beloved creators in children’s literature.

Everyone in Folly Cove knows Virginia Lee as “Jinnee.” With her magical wands she can draw whatever she imagines, but for her sons Aris and Michael, she draws the most wonderful characters of all: BIG MACHINES with friendly names like Mary Anne, Maybelle, and Katy. Her marvelous magical wands can make anything move—even a cheerful Little House.

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers in 2017.

More praise for Big Machines:

“. . . [E]nchanting portrayal of Virginia Lee Burton . . . Prime material for classroom author studies and a lively, imaginative introduction to Burton’s classic picture books.” — Booklist, starred review

“Burton’s fans will enjoy teasing out the visual references to her work, both in Rocco’s use of color and form (including several circular vignettes), while feeling intimately connected to how these treasured stories came into being.” — Publishers Weekly

“This is a lovely tribute, both to a marvelous creator of books for children as well as the creative process itself. ­Recommended for most ­picture book ­biography collections.” — School Library Journal

“Rocco’s paintings of the artist at work and his replicas of her illustrations are masterful... [Big Machines] provides an intriguing, loving introduction to a picture-book icon.” — Horn Book