Blackout by John Rocco

111883331Lynn: What happens at your house when the lights go out?  Shrieks of dismay?  Frantic calls to the power company?  John Rocco’s wise and funny book Blackout (Disney/Hyperion 2011) shows us that it can also be a great opportunity to slow down and appreciate our world and the people in it.

On a normal summer night a little boy tries to find someone in his family to play a game but everyone is too busy – waaay too busy.  Sadly he goes back to his video game and then the lights go out.  The family – and the neighborhood – suddenly have time to look at the stars, sit on the stoop and enjoy doing nothing at all.  When the lights go back on, people rush back to their frantic preoccupations – but not everyone.  “Not everyone likes normal.”

Rocco’s illustrations are invitingly comedic and he uses a rich warm palette that intensifies after the lights go out.  Oh, that glorious night sky scene that is smartly used as the cover.  There are lots of great details to look for in the flashlight beams and our focus group has spent a lot of time happily rereading this.  Kids AND adults will appreciate the reminder to step back and look at the stars.

Cindy: I’ve been spending a lot of time this past year appreciating the little things, and Rocco’s book provides great reinforcement of the importance of doing just that. The range of emotions brought on by a power outage is captured in the verbal and visual cues of this family…fear, exasperation, curiousity and wonder…even delight. This might make a good discussion starter for children about how much electricity is consumed in a household and in entertainment, but the real fun is in examining the illustrations for the humorous details and in thinking about what we’d most want to do if only we weren’t so busy and had more TIME. What would you do? Bonfires are big on my list.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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