Meet John Rocco, Rick Riordan’s Personal Illustrator

March 4th, 2010 by

John Rocco and The Lightning Thief Deluxe Edition

Children's book illustrator John Rocco, with The Lightning Thief Deluxe Edition.

It’s been Percy Jackson madness here on Kidsmomo (literal madness — have you heard our Kidsmomo Karaoke Tribute to PJ?) so I’m gonna write a serious blog post about some serious Percy Jackson stuff.


And now that I’m done gloating (yes, very immature of me), I’ll get to the good stuff — at the event (which was held at a bookstore in Manhattan), Percy Jackson editor Jennifer Besser talked about how the original cover illustrations weren’t really working, and they then found John Rocco, illustrator extraordinaire!

Maybe “personal illustrator” to Rick Riordan is an exaggeration, but John Rocco has designed all five covers of the Percy Jackson series and he’s also working on the new Kane Chronicles series.  I made sure to capture as much as possible on video:

John talking about how he came up with the idea for the cover of The Lightning Thief:

For aspiring artists: his process is really interesting! Check out all the different versions of The Titan’s Curse:

John also took some tough questions from the audience…

And some questions led to some DRAMA!

Some more goodies from John Rocco and Jennifer Besser:

  • The new Camp Half-Blood series by Rick Riordan will be released in October 2010!
  • John enjoyed working on The Last Olympian cover the most, and often went to the Empire State Building for inspiration.
  • John also worked on the new Rick Riordan series The Kane Chronicles, and afterwards I bugged him about the water tower on the cover of The Red Pyramid — and turns out it’s not significant in the story. (I guess I went a little overboard scrutinizing the cover!)

— Nancy

Kane Chronicles: “The Red Pyramid” Mini-Excerpt and Book Cover (Part 2)

January 17th, 2010 by

As you can tell from my earlier post, I’m very excited about Rick Riordan’s new book series, The Kane Chronicles — especially now that they’ve released the book cover! So as promised, here is my obsessive-compulsive analysis/commentary on the book cover:

  1. Presumably that’s Sadie on the left, and her brother, Carter, on the right.
  2. Carter is holding is Khopesh sword (also called a scimitar), the Egyptian word for a battle-axe sickle-sword.
  3. Does Sadie have special powers in the series? The Egyptian symbols are coming out over her palm, which you can see in the animation!
  4. What is that building they are facing? It looks too small to be the British Museum mentioned in the mini-excerpt
  5. There is a giant serpent/snake (ewww…) surrounding Sadie and Carter and slithering into the building — reminds me of the basilisk from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
  6. Is the water tower significant? It wouldn’t be included on the cover if it wasn’t, right? Perhaps the setting for an action-packed scene in the book? Or am I reading too much into it?
  7. “The Kane Chronicles” crest is a set of wings with two snakes connected together. The oval piece in the center looks like a jewel to me. Or a jelly bean.
  8. Despite the title The Red Pyramid, the only pyramid shape on the cover is the outline of the triangle in the background. So I guess my literal interpretation was a little too obvious…
  9. Some of the symbols flying out of Sadie’s hands: an eye, an Egyptian, two types of bird, a large cat (lioness? panther? tiger?), a knife (or feather pen?), and what I interpreted as a boat or raft.

Well, that’s all I found… Leave a comment with your thoughts on the book cover!

— Nancy

Kane Chronicles: “The Red Pyramid” Mini-Excerpt and Book Cover (Part 1)

January 16th, 2010 by


For a larger version, click on the book cover and pore over it like I did: O_O

A month ago I posted breaking book news about Rick Riordan’s new series, The Kane Chronicles… along with my mock-up of the cover art. Unfortunately, the publishers didn’t think mine was that great (how dare they?!) — and now they’ve released their own cover, plus a mini-excerpt!

We only have a few hours, so listen carefully. If you’re hearing this story, you’re already in danger. Sadie and I might be your only chance.

Go to the school. Find the locker. I won’t tell you which school or which locker, because if you’re the right person, you’ll find it. The combination is 13/32/33. By the time you finish listening, you’ll know what those numbers mean. Just remember the story we’re about to tell you isn’t complete yet. How it ends will depend on you.

The most important thing: when you open the package and find what’s inside, don’t keep it longer than a week. Sure, it’ll be tempting. I mean, it will grant you almost unlimited power. But if you possess it too long, it will consume you. Learn its secrets quickly and pass it on. Hide it for the next person, the way Sadie and I did for you. Then be prepared for your life to get very interesting.

Okay, Sadie is telling me to stop stalling and get on with the story. Fine. I guess it started in London, the night our dad blew up the British Museum.

OMG! This sounds amazing. WHAT-IS-IN-THAT-PACKAGE?! I bet those numbers mean something! HE-BLEW-UP-THE-BRITISH-MUSEUM?! What are these secrets? UNLIMITED-POWER?! OMG-egghhhhh-cough-cough-cough.

(“egghhhhh” is the sound of me choking on my own spit, out of excitement.)

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of my coverage of The Red Pyramid, where I dissect the book cover — I’ll be spending a lot of time examining the interactive book cover on the official website.

— Nancy

NOTE: This mini-excerpt was given exclusively to The Wall Street Journal, but we wanted to reproduce it here for you guys. If you’re reading WSJ on your own, well, more power to you. But we’re certainly not on their site every day. No time to read about finance — must read kids’ books…

UPDATE: Here’s Part 2!

Breaking Book News: New Series by Rick Riordan – The Kane Chronicles

November 7th, 2009 by

WARNING: This is NOT the cover.  Thank goodness too, because my design skills are horrible!*

WARNING: This is NOT the cover, just something I threw together for fun. Thank goodness too, because this is pretty hideous!*

Author Rick Riordan tapped into ancient Greek mythology for his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and now he’ll be bringing a bit of ancient Egyptian mythology to our bookshelves. Gee, I wonder what Rick Riordan’s favorite subject might have been in school! (Highlight for my guess: history. duh.)

Book publisher Disney-Hyperion has recently announced the first book in Mr. Riordan’s new series, and it’s titled: The Kane Chronicles, Book One: The Red Pyramid. Here’s the description from the press release:

When a magical accident unleashes the Egyptian gods on the modern world, siblings Carter and Sadie Kane discover that they are the only ones who can put things right. As descendants of the greatest Egyptian magicians, they must find a way to defeat the evil god Set before he can destroy them.

The Percy Jackson series is amazing, so I can’t wait! (But really, I have to. It’s not like I can break into Rick Riordan’s study and steal the manuscript. Or can I… Yeah, no.)

Anyway… So as I was saying — I can’t wait! Also, it’s early, but just throwing this out there, Mr. Riordan… perhaps a crossover series? 😉

— Nancy

* What’s that you say, Mr. Disney-Hyperion Publisher Man? You like my mock cover design? Yes, I would love to design the real cover of the new series! Why, of course I’ll direct the movie adaptations too! That’s so nice of you to — what? I’m in day dream land? And talking to myself? Darn it.

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