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on July 27, 2011
An urban, multi-cultural family spends a hot summer night glued to the tv set, computer... until the power goes out. The book is in somewhat of a comic book format, with large panels and a few speech balloons. There's a generous use of cross-hatching, and what looks like digitally-added color. I loved the hidden little details, such as Thomas Edison's portrait looking disapprovingly on as the protagonist initially settles in for a night of video games.

Once the lights are out, the book switches to a subdued palette of mostly blue. Forced to hang out together, the family tries playing with a flashlight making shadow puppets on the wall, until they decide to go up to the roof and watch the stars. Then they head down to the street where's there's a block party atmosphere. An ice cream vendor is giving away ice cream (before it melts, I assume) and kids play by a splashing fire hydrant.

When power is finally restored, "everything went back to normal... but not everyone likes normal," and here we see the family purposely turning off the lights, and playing a board game together. This book would make a great bedtime story, and hopefully will inspire people to try out a night off-the-grid.
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on March 10, 2012
I ordered this for my school library. It is a Caldecott Honor Award winner for 2012. Most winners of late have been wordless books. I like this one, because it has words that are
important in our technological age. A little girl wants her family to play a board game with her, but everyone is too busy with phones, computers or house chores. There is a blackout
in the city and, because it is a hot summer night, they head to the roof, where other people are enjoying the beautiful night. The go to the street, and people are enjoying each other
and music, etc. Then the lights are restored. Everyone goes back to the way things were, except the little girl. You'll love the ending. My students really enjoyed the story and
the beautiful illustrations.
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The brownstone buildings were brightly lit and the streets were humming with noise. The garbage truck roared as it drove down the street and the taxi cap beeped in return. Inside one brownstone everyone in the family was busy doing their own thing. Big sister was gabbing on her cell phone, Mom was tap tap tapping away on her keyboard, and Dad was cooking. Little bro reached up on a shelf to bring down a board game. It took two players and maybe someone would play.

"Get OUT!" Big sister wasn't about to play and neither were Mom and Dad because everyone was "much too busy." He ambled back upstairs to play a video game when all of a sudden ... "the lights went out." His eyes grew wide and he began to yell, "MOM!" It was really scary because nothing worked, even his big sister's cell phone. Mom rounded up the family and they peered out over the darkness of the city. They gathered around the table as Dad made a shadow puppet against the wall. Of course, big sister was totally bored. When would the power come back on and in the meantime, what would they do without it?

This is the delightful story of how a family came together during a summer blackout. Little brother, who has nothing to do before the blackout, suddenly finds that his fear of the darkness turns into a fun adventure. The streets and building tops come alive in Brooklyn when the lights go out and everyone finds that life does go on without technology. The artwork is bold and moves from panels to full page, unframed illustration after the blackout. One of my favorite pages is when everyone discovers the stars in the sky have appeared when the lights go out. Everyone will discover in this book that not being busy is sometimes more fun than being "much too busy."
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on August 29, 2012
We just received this book from my order a few days ago - so far we've read it every night at bedtime since. My 3 year old son loves it. The illustrations are great and the story is simple the follow. There isn't a whole lot of context here so it leaves a lot of room for discussion and observation. As a parent with a busy schedule and a busy family I could relate to the message and it's inspiring.
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on August 31, 2013
Beautiful message, with more beautiful pictures. One thing I haven't seen many reviewers touch on is the fact that the main family appears to be multicultural- something many children can relate to in real life, but probably can't find much of in children's books. In a street scene there are two men walking together who could be friends, or could be something more. I just love how inclusive this book feels, without being in your face about it. Very beautiful illustrations, with a great message about connecting (reconnecting) with one another. I love it.
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on June 17, 2012
This is a wonderful book about a family disconnected from one another that come together in the midst of a blackout. I have read this book to my three year old son dozens of times and every night he still asks for it. It was an excellent buy and the illustrations are incredible. I highly recommend this book.
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on June 28, 2011
On a hot summer night, the lights go out across the city. Families huddle by candlelight; then go up to the roof to see the light of the stars in the sky. A block party takes place on the rooftops and in the streets below. And then, the lights come back on: normal life resumes. Young children ages 3-6 will enjoy the light and dark of this book.
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BLACKOUT received the 2012 Caldecott Honor, and rightfully so. The artwork is sharp, with no assignable comparisons. Each page is covered in vivid--especially impressive considering the darkness--drawings. The story itself is interesting, starting people through their windows participating in assimilable nighttime activities: playing video games, talking on the phone, typing on the computer. Once the power goes out, everyone comes out of the house, assentive to meet one another, leading to an electric-free block party.

BLACKOUT achieves the author's goal of recreating New York's blackout of 2003, making readers feel a part of the scene, whether they are peering into the windows of the apartment inhabitants or joining them up on the roof for a barbeque under the stars.

Coincidentally, my family's reading of BLACKOUT took place just after our power had been restored. We learned that night, like those portrayed in the book, that family bonding time by candle light can be priceless--sometimes worth more than any associative electronic offering.
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on February 2, 2012
Every time the electricity goes out, I find myself commenting on how nice it is to have unexpected time reconnecting with my family and taking a break from the technology that pervades my life. That is exactly what this book is about. The youngest child in an urban family tries to convince the rest of the family to play a board game, but everyone is much too busy. Until the power goes out.

Vividly illustrated, this book shares a compelling message of reconnecting with family and community. The target audience is children ages 4-8, but it kept my attention as well as that of my 17-month-old son: the story is simple and direct, and the illustrations are quite captivating.
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on August 1, 2012
In the city where everyone is busy, busy, busy...something terrible happens...a BLACKOUT! Oh no! Now what will these busy, busy people do?

My 7-year-old's thoughts: It was good. My favorite part was when they went upstairs and onto the roof. When they got up there they saw the lights and people! Those two pages were the best. I want to take this to my class and read it to them now!

My thoughts: What a fun story! I love the idea of "turning it all off" and just hanging out together. We've been doing that more and more at night. We won't even turn on the TV some nights, will sit down in our chairs or go outside for the entire evening, and read or just plain hang out together. I love evenings like this! The two pages my daughter loved are my favorites too when they emerge onto the rooftop and look up at the amazing night sky with all of its gorgeous stars! Then they look around and see tons of other people have done the same thing and wave to them! How fun is that!? The illustrations were a bit different from others, which I liked. I especially liked that some pages had a "graphic" feel to them with many pictures and others were full pages of wonder. There's no wondering about why this was awarded the Caldecott Medal of Honor!
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