David's Reviews > Blackout

Blackout by John Rocco
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's review
Sep 27, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: picturebooks

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 there too, with kids playing in water from the fire hydrant and the store next door giving out free ice cream. When the lights come back on, everyone returns to their normal, separate activities, until the child flips off the light switch and the family returns to playing their board game by flashlight.

The text features a lot of word repetition. The fonts vary in size and the lettering is all in capitals.

The illustrations take this story to the next level. There is a strong graphic novel look, with some panels and some text bubbles. The graphic novel portrayal of some characters should engage many readers.
The design really appeals to me. The opening shots, and subsequent views of figures in windows reminds me of the classic movie Rear Window. Different perspectives are used very effectively. I enjoyed the way the stars were drawn. The use of flashlights to create shadows was brilliant. I love the view of the apartments with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, and the three panels showing all the lights going out. The two page spreads of the block party on the roof and the party on the street are excellent. The many views of the cat make me smile, including the last page where it swipes at THE END.

I feel this very effectively portrays a blackout. It also delivers the message of the need to unplug and reconnect with each other without being too preachy. The multicultural family and what may be a gay couple on the street add diversity.

Two quibbles: I couldn't figure out if the child was a boy or a girl until the man referred to him as "buddy." The man (father) has an extremely elongated face and big teeth which I found alternately very interesting and/or a bit creepy

For ages 4 to 7, blackout, electricity, family, city, diversity, and fans of John Rocco.
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