Friday, November 14, 2014

Disney/Hyperion ARC Review: Blizzard (John Rocco)

Hardcover, 40 pages
Expected publication: October 28th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion

ARC Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

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. John uses an increasing amount of white space in his playful images, which include a gatefold spread of the boy's expedition to the store. 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. 

Purchase Links: 

Photo: Don't worry, snow is coming...

John Rocco
Rocco studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design and School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is the author of four acclaimed books for children: Wolf! Wolf!, winner of the Borders Original Voices Award for best picture book; Moonpowder, part of the Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators; Fu Finds the Way, and Blackout, a New York Times Best Book of the Year and winner of a 2012 Caldecott Honor. Rocco also illustrated Whoopi Goldberg‘s Alice and the covers for Rick Riordan‘s multi-million copy internationally bestselling series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, and The Heroes of Olympus. Most recently, Rocco illustrated the fantasy fairy tale, The Flint Heart, written by Katherine Paterson and her husband, with samFor many years Rocco has been 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.Rocco lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Aileen and their daughter, Alaya.

I absolutely LOVE children's books so when I got the offer at a chance to review "Blizzard" before its publication date...I literally screamed YES!!! From the first glance of this book I could just tell it was going to be a great family book and I was definitely right 

The colors portrayed on the cover and throughout the book are so vivid and gorgeous. They really make the book come alive. 

The story is centered around a young boy as he experiences his first blizzard. The young boy starts out by enjoying this new experience by playing in the snow, playing with his friends, and helping his Dad move the snow so they can walk around. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when the young boy and his dog are trying out his sled and they just seem to keep falling in the snow so much that you can barely see their heads. (This is a funny moment but it also portrays the events that could possibly be dangerous and allows children to interpret this scene both ways)

My next favorite scene is where the whole family is wrapped up in warm blankets and drinking hot cocoa by the fire and talking stories about their day in the snow. The youngest boy is actually reading a book on "Arctic Survival."

Then the family begins to realize that they are running low on food and supplies and the snowplows have yet to arrive so they have no idea what they will do when they eventually run out. The young boy has been reading all about Arctic Survival so he realizes that all he needs are a few items and he can make himself some snow shoes and a snow sled and can try and go out to get supplies for the family. 

This young boy gets everything ready and begins his journey. As he sets out for the store he decides to stop by each of his neighbor's homes and see if they need any necessary supplies. The neighbors are so grateful and appreciate that this young boy is doing such a brave thing...and not just for his family but for everyone. 

This is a heart-warming, beautiful story about a young boys courage to stand up when the odds are against him. He was so determined to help his family and his neighbors and he accomplished the task all by himself. 

My son is seven years old and he absolutely loved this story. We have read it every night since it arrived. He loves looking at all the vivid pictures and especially the silly dog. He really liked the "map" that is in the middle of the book that shows the young boys path to the neighbors house, the store, and back home. We even make our own different paths each time we read it! 

Needless to say...I really enjoyed this book and it is perfect for this time of year. This is a great book to read with your children to not only show them the fun that can be had when it snows but also the possibility of danger and how to react should the situation arrive. John Rocco is a great storyteller and I can't wait to read future books from him!! 

**I want to say Thank You to Disney-Hyperion Publishing for the opportunity to review this book!!**

1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

This book is based on actual events that happened to my family during a historic blizzard in 1978. We were actually snowbound in our house for 9 days before the plows made it to our street. 

2. Who is your favorite character in the book?

Personally, I like the dog. There is nothing like watching an English Sheepdog bound through deep snow. He is based on our dog, Toby-Tyler that we had when I was very young. The dog I had in 78 was much smaller and would’ve gotten lost in the snow, so I decided to use Toby-Tyler in this book. 

3. Which came first, the title or the novel?

The title of this book was a no-brainer. It matched up so well with my earlier book, Blackout. Same amount of letters, began with a b, two syllables…perfect. 

4. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

There is a four-page gate-fold that shows my journey from my house to the store and I am really proud of how it came out. I always loved maps in books, and this was my opportunity to put in a whopper. Visually it is certainly a nod to Bill Keane’s Family Circus comic strip. Every Sunday I used to pour over the details he would put in those maps. 

5. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

Keep it simple. Edit, edit, edit…then edit some more. 

6. What do you like most about the cover of the book?

When most people think of a blizzard they equate it with something bad, but through the eyes of a child it can be extraordinary. I think this painting captures that feeling, that sense of wonder. 

7. What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2015?

I am looking forward to Rick Riordan’s first book in his new series on Norse mythology, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. I will be painting the covers for this series and I can’t wait to read them so I can figure what the heck I will be doing. 

8. What was your favorite book in 2014?

I am going to stay in the field of children’s books and say my favorite picture book; Sam and Dave Dig A Hole, by Mac Barnett illustrated by Jon Klassen. Never before have I rooted for and anguished for the characters in a picture book. 

9. What’s up next for you?

I have just finished illustrating Todd Tarpley’s wonderful picture book text, Beep Beep Go to Sleep, about a boy desperately trying to put his three robots to bed. It’s a sweet and funny story that I think will be a huge hit for nighttime reading. I have also just started illustrating the sequel to Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods. It’s called Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes and will be available in the late summer or fall of 2015. 

10. Is there anything that you would like to add?

One of the reasons I made this book is that most children today don’t get the opportunity to have adventures like I did as a kid. Today, there are play-dates arranged, day camps, and lots of parental supervision in their activities. When I was young we were left to our own devices, to go out into the world (or at least the neighborhood) and make our own discoveries, meet up with other kids, make up games and have adventures. I want to celebrate that. 


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 Mr. Schu Reads

Thursday, November 20 Elizabeth Dulemba

1 comment:

  1. I love the cover it looks so cute, I think I am going to need to pick this one up for my niece for christmas