"When I was eleven years old I started working on a commercial shellfishing boat that was captained by Jay Primiano. We spent long days together out on water in all types of weather and in all kinds of situations. At sixteen I had my own quahogging boat and I honestly felt that this was going to be my career. It wasn't until one particularly harsh winter when my boat sank, that I decided to go to college. I went to University of Rhode Island with the intent of studying oceanographic engineering and I lived with Jay and an illustrator named Fred Lynch on a little island off of Point Judith. Jay and I coached soccer together at North Kingstown High School while Fred would sit in the house and paint pictures all day. He inspired me to pursue illustration and helped me get into Rhode Island School of Design. I continued my studies at School of Visual Arts in NYC and upon graduation I got a job illustrating the picture book, ALICE written by Whoopi Goldberg. Soon after I moved to Los Angeles and found work as an art director in the entertainment industry. I worked on many different projects including attractions at Walt Disney's Epcot Center as well as the blockbuster animated film Shrek. In 2004 I moved back to NYC to pursue making children's books and have been working hard at that ever since. Jay and I have stayed friends all these years and it is with great pride that we are able to present this book that takes place in a world we both grew up in."
John Rocco is the author and illustrator of many acclaimed books for children, including Wolf! Wolf!, winner of the Borders Original Voices Award for best picture book; Moonpowder; Fu Finds the Way, and Blackout, a New York Times Best Book of the Year and winner of the 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. To find out more about John and his books, visit www.roccoart.com
“My very first experiences on the water were with my neighbor Gene Beebe, a man of great character, who allowed me to work aboard his commercial lobster boat. He instilled an understanding of the benefits of hard work, which is at the core of the novel John Rocco and I were able to cobble together from a collection of vignettes that we first told each other orally and then eventually began writing down in 2008. Our storytelling and testimonials included great laughter, reminiscences of difficult times, soul searching moments, which helped to formulate who we have become. My life has taken many different paths; I worked my way through Rhode Island College as a shell fisherman on Narragansett Bay while studying English. In college, I developed another passion, playing and coaching soccer, eventually becoming a high school coach, then later an Assistant Men’s Soccer Coach of a “Top Twenty” Division I program at a state university. I also worked for several years as Director of Parks and Recreation in the coastal community where I now live with my family. All the while, I continued to write poetry, short stories and even performed short story readings in dialect as well as dabbling in stand-up comedy for a few years.
During my college years, John and I stayed in touch and for a time, shared a house on Great Island, Rhode Island located near the fishing port of Galilee along with professional illustrator, Fred Lynch. This was one of the most engaging and humorous times of my life. The three of us remain friends to this day. Our lives in the rented cottage were filled with humor, hilarity, competition and growth.
With the suggestion by my good friend, Jay Sutton, that I should write a book for middle school students that was grounded in the fishing industry of my past, I approached John with this idea during a Labor Day weekend visit in 2008. We worked together on a loose outline of ideas. We took solid advice from Children’s Book Author, Aileen Leijten, John’s wife to just write it all down and then determine what to do with the stories later.
In early morning hours, we filled the culling board with lots of words, scenarios, characters, illustrating a young boy’s struggle. Each morning we would share pages, sometimes ten thousand words in a journey into our past. I describe that experience like visiting with old friends each morning before work. We knew we had something special with John pulling out the best of the stories, linking them through dialogue and connecting with plot points.
Over the next several years, John and I met on many occasions including some marathon writing sessions. Once, John came to Jamestown for a forty-eight hour visit to write. We wrote for forty-four hours during that session.
Our wonderful editor, Karen Lotz, and her sensitive understanding of the text and suggestions led us to the form of the book that will be published April 8th, 2014. It has been an intriguing experience. The experience of a lifetime to be shared with my best friend.“