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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  5,938 ratings  ·  739 reviews
One hot summer night in the city, all the power goes out. The TV shuts off and a boy wails, "Mommm!" His sister can no longer use the phone, Mom can't work on her computer, and Dad can't finish cooking dinner. What's a family to do? When they go up to the roof to escape the heat, they find the lights--in stars that can be seen for a change--and so many neighbors it's like ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Disney-Hyperion
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Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnellI Want My Hat Back by Jon KlassenGrandpa Green by Lane SmithPerfect Square by Michael  HallBlackout by John Rocco
2012 Mock Caldecott
5th out of 84 books — 183 voters
I Want My Hat Back by Jon KlassenTuesday Tucks Me In by Luis Carlos MontalvánExtra Yarn by Mac BarnettThe Day the Crayons Quit by Drew DaywaltSophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller
Favorite MODERN Picture Books
23rd out of 299 books — 106 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Fantastic illustrations, and a sweet engaging story with a wonderful message about turning off the devices in this tech'ed out life to simply "be" with each other.

A refreshing, optimistic examination of a New York City blackout far removed from what really happened that one time in 1977.

And don't forget this movie:

Lisa Vegan
Sep 20, 2014 Lisa Vegan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: kids who might be scared of the dark/blackouts; kids who like playing board games
Recommended to Lisa by: Crystal Marcos
Oh, I just got such a kick out of this book! Funny and sweet and quirky and heartwarming!

The pictures are wonderful, from the cover on. At first I thought the cover and the premise would be my favorite parts of the book, but I quickly warmed up to the entire story.

I did feel sorry for the scared cat and the scared dog each in a single frame. But the stars were heavenly, and the neighborhood camaraderie was heartwarming and fun. And the solution at the end was genius. I suppose this is a bit of
What a wonderful book! This is a very simple story about a blackout in a large and noisy city.
A child wants attention but everyone in his family is too busy. When the power suddenly goes out there is only darkness. All the noise stops and the family comes together to spend time on the roof enjoying the stars and on the neighbourhood street.
This book really makes a point of how wired and noisy our lives are. We need to take time out to enjoy the natural landscape and company of others.
The illus

I really enjoyed this story about a family so plugged into technology they don't have time to play with the youngest child... Until a blackout forces everyone in the city to get creative. The resulting imagination and social activity is great. I also love some of the little details in the illustrations like how sympathetic Thomas Edison looks from his portrait looking down at the little girl just before the blackout ;-)
Katie Fitzgerald
I love the way this story isn't just about what happens during a blackout, but about the way disconnecting technology and electricity for one evening brought a family close together. The illustrations are beautiful - they show how many colors make up the dark - blues, blacks, grays, greens - and how bright even the stars can seem when nothing else is lit up. This would be a great story to have on hand to read to kids during a power outage, and it's also a neat way to share the experience with ki ...more
Steph Sinclair
Dec 14, 2011 Steph Sinclair rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All those with kids
Recommended to Steph by: GoodReads

My daughter and I really enjoyed this one. The illustrations were beautiful and eye catching. It's very different from the illustrations I'm used to seeing in children's books because the technique used gives the pictures great depth making them very vivid. One thing I noticed from the start was that the family featured in the story was multi-racial. That was pretty cool. This is yet another must buy for the kids' library.
"If you are a fan of John Rocco’s work, or have yet to become one, Blackout is lovely book to check out, regardless of your age. However, it is one of those picture books to be read to or with someone, because it is all about spending time together. The most tragic image would be the 6-year-old sitting on the couch reading this while their family members are plugged-in elsewhere, too busy or distracted."


"Blackout is done more in the style of a graphic novel in movement and format; even the
Blackout is a story about a family in the middle of a blackout in their town; as the book opens, the reader sees that the son of the family wants to spend time with his family and play a board game. However, since everyone is so busy with technology (sister is on the phone, mother is on the computer, and the father is cooking), nobody wants to play with him. When the blackout occurs, the family realizes that it is fun to just do the simple things with the family without worrying about technology ...more
This has a very "comic book" feel to it - even though only a few of the pages are split into panels. Many of the illustrations are full-page or even two-page spreads. But the style of the illustrations and the font of the text contribute to the comic book feel.

I chuckled over many fun details in the illustrations. I especially loved all the shadow puppets on the walls and the cat who often showed up as a giant shadow in the flashlight spotlight. This was a nice choice for a Caldecott Honor this
On a hot summer night in the city, everyone is "much too busy" to play a board game with a bored little boy. He resigns himself to videogames until...the power goes out! As the family is plunged into darkness and forced to give up their evening of cooking/phoning/computing/videogaming, a new side of the city is seen, one where there are block parties in the sky, free ice cream on the street, and a new view of how to spend an evening at home with your family.

I loved John Rocco's artwork in Moonp
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I liked this Caldecott Honor Book much better than this year's winner. The illustrations give it the feel of a graphic novel, but the simple sentences make the story easy to read for beginners. A boy (I thought it was a girl until the end of the book) wants one of his family members to play a game with him, but everyone is too busy. However, on this hot summer night the lights go out all over the city, which means his family can't do all the things they'd been doing, things which required electr ...more
It was a normal summer night in the city. Hot, noisy, with everyone doing their own thing. But then, the lights go out and everything changes: families, neighbors, the whole city comes together. Forced to unplug, people turn to each other, playing board games, and even climbing up to the roof to see nature's natural lights--the stars. When the lights come back on, things go back to normal, but not everyone likes normal.

In the classroom, I would use this as a concept book: things that scare us,
Clare Cannon
A brilliant book! The illustrations are contemporary and fun, so it's a surprise to find such simple but powerful wisdom at the heart of this story.

Everyone is too absorbed in their own things to play a board game with a little girl who's looking for company. But then there's a blackout, and everything buzzing and shining just stops, and it is quiet and dark.

And suddenly people take notice of those around them, their family, neighbours and friends. They eat free ice cream and sing and play the
Jim Erekson
Almost fooled me! The book's well-drawn graphic novel style, spare pacing, and enchanting representation of a family in a power outage just about masked the story's attempt to teach us all a lesson. Once more, the fact that I agree with the message doesn't help. I don't think the sermon is in general a genre of literature. And this is the second (or third) book in two weeks to try to tell me to just turn off the lights and enjoy life without gadgets.
"It started out as a normal summer night..." A family living in a small, New York City apartment are going about their nightly business, too busy to play a board game with the youngest resident. When all of the sudden, the lights go out. The illustrations pan across the city-scape revealing darkness. The family wanders up to their balcony and explores life at street level. They find their community has rallied under another source of light and are partying under the stars. Suddenly, no one is bu ...more
This story has beautiful artwork and pages, a diverse cast, a fun storyline, and a heartfelt and worthwhile message to convey. It's almost 5 stars for me, but I tend to reserve that rating for books that give me a deeper emotional experience. I liked the combination of intimate dark spaces and infinite vast sky and city, and the moral of the story was touching; but it was more entertaining than emotionally moving.
Opening for Children's Literature
Audience: 2nd grade

The title of our book today is Blackout. What happens when there is a blackout? (Students answer.) Right, it's when your house has no electricity. When I was a kid, my neighborhood had a blackout after a big snow storm. My mom and I had no electricity for three days. We listened to a battery powered radio and took cold showers. Raise your hand if you have ever been through a blackout. (Students raise hands.) What did you and your family do when
It’s amazing how one event, chance, or occurrence can bring everyone together. This story about finding fun and wonder in the dark will pull readers of all ages right in with big, beautiful, clear, vibrant pictures.

Turn of the lights! You might be surprised by what you find in the dark. :)


1. Text to Self: This reminds of when we had a snowstorm around Christmas in 2009 and my family was all snowed in together. We had to be creative finding new things to do together.

2. Bloom's Taxononmy:
1. Remembering: How did this story end?
2. Understanding: What do you think the main idea of this book is?
3. Applying: How is this similar to when we have storms here in Omaha/Nebraska?
4. Analyzing: How would you compare the little girl in the story to her family?
5. Evaluating: Would it be better i
Charmie McKinney
Blackout by John Rocco
I believe the saying "A picture is worth a a thousand words!" This book was written with few words but the pictures says it all. It's starts off on a warm summer night where everyone was busy. One family in particular was much to busy to play a simple game with the youngest of the family. She decided to do her own thing until....the lights went out and then everything changed! I really enjoyed this story because it made me reflect upon my own life of being much to busy for
Nice drawings.
Blackout by John Rocco follows a city family who has its evening activities interrupted by a blackout.

His sister and parents are too busy to play a board game with a lonely child, so it's time to play a video game on a hot summer night. Suddenly a blackout occurs. The family makes shadow animals and plays a board game until it's so hot they head up to the roof to discover the starlight, and neighbors having a block party. They also hear noise from the street, so they head down to find a party t
It was a normal summer night in the city. That meant it was hot and noisy. In their apartment, the family was busy. Her older sister was on the phone. Her dad was cooking. Her mother was using the computer. Everyone was much too busy to play a board game with her. So she started playing a video game on her own. Until the lights went out all over the city. At first, the family huddled in the dark near their candles. But then as it got hotter and hotter inside, they headed to the roof where they f ...more
Awesome picture book about a multicultural family in the city and how the only thing that makes them slow down is when a blackout occurs. What will they do now? The illustrations initially show the frustration of the little boy with his family and their 'busyness'. When the blackout occurs he is happy and uses it to his advantage. So much so, that when the lights come on again he decides to click them off with the switch to enjoy a little bit more family time. This book is a great family read fo ...more
Written and illustrated by John Rocco, BLACKOUT (2012 Caldecott Honor Book) is a beautiful picture book with very few words, yet its message says so much. Like many families, this one is very, very busy. Mom is on the computer, Dad is cooking dinner and the big sister shouts with her angry voice “Get Out!” when the younger brother simply wants to sit down with someone and play a board game. They live in the city on the second floor of a brownstone and it’s a hot, sticky summer night when pop! th ...more
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Sep 12, 2011 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a fun story that encourages us to unplug from our busy, busy lives and just spend time together. It's a worthy message in an all-too busy world.

It reminds me of my recent travels - I travel somewhat frequently and whenever I do, I never turn on the television. If I'm overseas, I don't have my fancy-schmancy smart phone with me. And more often than not, I don't even try to connect my computer to the wi-fi (if it is even available.) I certainly don't spend as much time on sites like Goodr
Shamilah Gillani
We never realize how affected we are by technology in our daily lives. For the children of this generation, technology is all they know, never having experienced how life can be without it. In "Blackout", the lights go out during a summer night. The phones, lights, computers were not working. People rarely have time to spend with one another, but on this night, families find ways to creatively have fun with each other and connect with each other. The illustrations are done exquisitely, really sh ...more
L13F_Jana Wilkening

Before you read this amazing book, check out this awesome book trailer for the inspiration behind Blackout:

In August 2003, a blackout in New York City caused 14 million people to lose power. This picture book follows one young girl and her family as they experience that blackout. All of a sudden, the “normalcy” of phones, computers, video games, stoves, etc… are gone. Instead, the family escapes the heat of the apartment and enjoys an evening under the st
It was a hot summer night in the city,everyone a little too busy and too cranky, --when suddenly the lights went out all over the urban neighborhood (as they are wont to do when circuits are overloaded). The family copes for a while with a flashlight and a candle, even trying to play their board game (called Scatchisi--maybe a combination of Scattergories and Parchisi?), but then head up to the roof to escape the heat, where they find a friendly neighborhood party. This handsomely designed Calde ...more
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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 o ...more
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