John Rocco (www.roccoart.com) studied illustration at Rhode Island School of Design and The School of Visual Arts. In addition to writing and illustrating four of his own picture books, including the Caldecott Honor-winning and New York Times bestselling Blackout, he has created all of the cover art for Rick Riordan's best-selling Percy Jackson, Kane Chronicles, and Heroes of Olympus series. He has also illustrated books by Whoopi Goldberg and Katherine Patterson. Before becoming a full-time children's book creator, he worked as an art director on "Shrek" for Dreamworks, and for Disney Imagineering. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.
"Write what you know," goes the saying, and an author photo of a young Rocco with a big, unruly 'fro proves he knows from epic hair. The boy in this story, an enthusiastically comedic departure from Rocco's Caldecott Honor winning Blackout, is sure that his giant tangle of hair is-like Sampson-responsible for his "superpowers." The boy's powers basically amount to self-confidence, and Rocco shows him dressed in a lightning bolt T-shirt and cape, swinging upside down from a tire swing and launching himself from a homemade ramp on his bike, as three similarly shaggy "superfriends" cheer him on. After the boy's father hauls him off to the "villain's lair" (the barbershop), his entire world turns gray; worse still, his friends have also been shorn and stripped of their abilities. Halftone dots and star bursts contribute to the story's comics-driven aesthetic as the boys get an opportunity to redeem themselves and find their inner hero. With a light, humorous touch, Rocco reveals that sometimes the Kryptonite is all in your head. Ages 4 9. Agent: Rob Weisbach, Rob Weisbach Creative Management. (May) PW" Rocco and his three scruffy, wild-mopped pals are surely endowed with superpowers. How else could they dirt-bike off a milk carton and board ramp, skateboard over toy cars and trains, kick down stacks of Legos, or leap from a ladder into a wading pool? Rocco is certain that the source of his own power is his hair-a monstrous halo of reddish-brown kinks nearly as high as he is tall. Imagine, then the horror of being captured (by your father) and "dragged away to the villain's lair" (the barber shop) where your dynamic force is reduced to a sad pile of clippings. Rocco's concern that the barber will curtail his powers is only matched by his fear of what his friends will say-but when they meet up at the playground, the whole crew is similarly shorn. Fortunately, a little girl sizes up their situation and takes pity. Stranding her doll atop the monkey bars, she calls out for a hero, thereby restoring the friends' raison d' tre: "After we saved the day, it was obvious that even without hair . . . we were STILL SUPER!" Adult Rocco (Blackout, BCCB 6/11), who provides proof of his superpowered locks in a juvenile photograph on the jacket flap, has a fine time pumping up this wild memoir with comic-book conventions from speech bubbles to splash pages, Ben Day dot backdrops to sound effects. Colors fade to gray tones when the boys hit the depths of their despair, and rebound to full color as they race to the rescue and set their world aright. Hand this to kids who embrace the comics-style picture books of Kevin O'Malley. EB BCCB" Rocco believes that his superpowers come from his hair an Afro with golden brown ringlets that surround his head. The more it grows, the more awesome his powers become. His superhero friends, who also have long locks, watch in awe as he whooshes and zooms through the day wearing his lightning bolt T-shirt and star-studded cape. Together he and his friends are unstoppable, until the day they are hauled off to the barber shop. After Rocco's hair is cut, he escapes back to his hideout, dragging his legs in defeat. Visions of a flying barber wearing Rocco's ringlets and slam-dunking a basketball cloud his worrisome mind. A lurking girl quietly places her doll on the monkey bars and cries wolf. Rocco and his friends race to the scene and save the day, learning that even without their long locks they are still indeed super. Bold, colorful pen-and-ink illustrations burst with power from each spread in comic-book style. This story will make a feel-good impression on budding comic book/superhero fans. Krista Welz, The North Bergen Public Library, NJ SLJ" A young superhero falls prey to a Samson complex. Young narrator Rocco, with his frothy mass of curls, is a comic-book fan and, of course, the superhero of his own stories-along with three equally long-haired sidekicks. But when he is hauled off to a scissors-wielding, nearly bald barber, he's afraid that his superpowers have been compromised. Will a viny plant or maybe a mop head restore them? But his friends all sport new, short haircuts, too, and all the boys feel quite weak until a younger girl needs help: superheroes to the rescue. Artist Rocco's children are cheerfully compact and kinetic. In a just-right nod to comic-book conventions, the trip to the barber and subsequent illustrations of the boys without superpowers are rendered in grayscale, while the superhero moments take place in colorful, warm hues on a background of comic-book like Ben-Day dots. Little Rocco's powers, and those of his friends, don't exceed reality: jumping homemade ramps on a bike-check; flying by skateboard over (toy) cars and trains-check; leaping from a tall stepladder into a baby pool-uh, no, as the child's look of dismay indicates. The little girl who creates an occasion for the boys to return to their superhero roles has a wise look of her own-superpowers of observation, perhaps-and may well end up as a sidekick herself. This won't answer those many preschool requests for superhero stories, but it does offer a go-with-the-flow bit of imaginative silliness. (Picture book. 3-6) Kirkus"