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Book Reviews, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Early/Young Readers, Picture Books, Read-Aloud Suggestions

BLACKOUT by John Rocco

by John RoccoBlackout is the story of a city-wide blackout which causes the people of one particular neighborhood to put aside the technologies of computers and phones and ipods, as well as staying indoors thanks to electric light, and discover their neighbors on the roof of their apartment building and in the streets.

It opens with a single child trying to convince even one family member to play a board game.  The response is always:  “I’m busy.”  When all the electricity goes off and everyone is plunged into darkness, they find the light of the stars on the roof.  They find a party in the street.  They find joy and fun and delight in each other.

In the end, of course, electricity is restored and things “go back to normal.”  Except for our one particular family, who decides to switch off the lights and play a board game together.

The idea behind the story is a wonderful reminder that although our technology is amazing and fun and helpful, we need to remember to connect with each other outside of technology as well.  Our time together is precious.  Blackout successfully gets this idea across.

The language is nothing spectacular.  The story idea is a good one but I think it is only marginally achieved in the words.  The illustrations, however, are SPECTACULAR.  The book soars through its pictures.  A gifted artist, John Rocco has created two-dimensional images that seem to spring three-dimensionally from the pages.  The colors are rich and thick; the shadowing and perspective and characters are extraordinary!

This is a great read-aloud because the book is a visual feast and because its plot provides a terrific springboard for discussion of technology–its positives and its drawbacks, and how to incorporate both into our everyday lives.

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