4 Questions and 4 Sentence Starters with John Rocco

Hi, John Rocco! I just asked Siri the current temperature outside. “Brr! It’s 10 degrees outside,” was his response. I wish he had said, “Mr. Schu, it is the perfect weather to read John Rocco’s Blizzard." That would have been legendary! 

OK, enough chit-chat. What happened in Rhode Island on Monday, February 6, 1978?

John Rocco: One of the largest snowstorms in New England’s history happened on February 6, 1978. Parts of Rhode Island got hit with over 40 inches of snow in one night.  Snowplows did not get to our street for 9 days so we were all pretty much stuck in our houses for that time. I remember my parents weren’t so thrilled, but my sister and I had a blast. 

As an elementary school teacher-librarian, I know how much children (and many adults) love snow days. What tips can you share to help everyone make the most out of a snow day?  

John Rocco: Yes! Snow days are fantastic, and now that I live in Los Angeles I know we will not have one anytime soon. I remember sitting at our kitchen table with my sister listening to the radio for school closure announcements any time the slightest trace of snow was on the ground.  The best thing to do on a snow day is go sledding. Building a snow fort or snowman is definitely runner up. Just make sure to have warm, dry, gloves and boots, otherwise the fun will quickly get cut short. Most importantly, end the day with a cup of cocoa made with hot milk! 

Illustration Credit: John Rocco

I read that the artwork for Blizzard was created using pencil, watercolor, and digital painting. Please take us through the process of creating one of the illustrations.

John Rocco: The first thing I do is create a tonal pencil drawing using a 2H or H pencil on cold press Bristol paper. Once that is completed I scan that into my computer, and on a separate layer in Photoshop I will start painting the colors. I also introduce scans of watercolor washes and stains that I create separately. For Blizzard, these watercolor washes were integral to some of the backgrounds and atmosphere. 

If we looked at your bookcase or library checkout history from when you were 10 years old, what type of books or titles would we see?

John Rocco: I had three favorite books that I discovered when I was a kid. One was from my dad’s bookshelf, Old Man and the Sea.  It was fairly short and had the word Sea in the title, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong. It was all about fishing, and that was one thing I loved to do even more than reading. I would head down to the dock at the end of our street every morning to fish, and wouldn’t come home until suppertime.  Another book I loved was James and the Giant Peach, which was filled with the amazing drawings of Nancy Ekholm Burkert.  The last one I vividly remember was Island of the Blue Dolphins.  I received it during a RIF fair at our school. Every kid got to pick out one free book, and so it was pretty special to me. 

Please finish these sentence starters:

School libraries should not be turned into MEDIA rooms, and school librarians should not be replaced by (or turned into) Media specialists.

Reading is a time traveling, rip roaring, out of body adventure.

Picture books are meant to be shared, smelled and chewed on.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me…What do you listen to while you work? I actually like to listen to documentary films while I am drawing. It makes me feel like I’m learning something AND drawing something at the same time.

I am giving away one copy of Blizzard

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 11/18 to 11:59 p.m. on 11/20. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Blizzard Blog Tour! 
Thursday, November 6                  Mundie Kids
Friday, November 7                      Kid Lit Frenzy                                                  
Monday, November 10                  The Children’s Book Review       
Tuesday, November 11                 The Kids Did It                  
Wednesday, November 12            OC Mom Media                               
Thursday, November 13               As They Grow Up
Friday, November 14                   Curling Up With a Good Book    
Monday, November 17                 Ben Spark                                           
Tuesday, November 18                 ME
Thursday, November 20               Elizabeth Dulemba    

Borrow Blizzard from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


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