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Comment: Dust jacket included. Hardback book. Heavy damage on jacket, book has small amount of shelf wear. Pages are clean, free of markings, writing or highlighting. Ships in poly-mailer envelope.
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Blackout Hardcover – May 24, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - Kindergarten
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; First Edition edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423121902
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423121909
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 0.4 x 11.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

2012 Caldecott Honor Book
New York Times Notable Book
Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year
Publisher's Weekly Best Book of the Year
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year


Rocco's sublime account of a city blackout reveals a bittersweet truth: it sometimes takes a crisis to bring a family together. In a series of graphic novel style panels, a small child tries to convince family members to play a board game one hot summer night, but they're all too busy. When the lights go out, though, the neighborhood comes alive and the whole family drifts up to the roof to look at the stars: "It was a block party in the sky." Rocco (Fu Finds the Way) gets everything right: the father's pained, sheepish smile when he says he has no time to play; the velvety dark and glowing candlelight of the blackout (as well as the sense of magic that can accompany one); and the final solution to the problem of a too-busy family (a private blackout, courtesy of a light switch). The high-energy visuals that characterize Rocco's other work get dialed back a little. In the most poignant spread, the family sits on the stoop, eating ice cream: "And no one was busy at all." It's a rare event these days.—PW

On a hot night in the city, everyone in the family is busy with their own activities-too busy to play with the young girl hoping for a partner in a board game. When the electricity suddenly goes out, however, the busy family slows down; at first "huddled around flashlights and candles" together, they're then driven by the heat to the apartment-building roof, where they discover a power-free block party in progress and a sky full of stars usually bleached out by city glow. Then there's another party down in the street, where the philosophical ice-cream vendor gives her treats away and the firefighters open up a hydrant, so it's a bit of a disappointment when the lights come back on. While the real-life version of this would probably just send the wireheads in the family to their smart phones, it's an enticing premise nonetheless. Author-illustrator Rocco effectively employs the text as voiceover narration ("So we went up and up and up to the rooftop") for the drama that unfolds visually, and the simple, straightforward words, in font recalling In the Night Kitchen and crawled across the full-bleed art or neatly boxed, play their supporting role tactfully. Rocco interestingly goes for solidity rather than ethereality with his visual style: the family is a robust little crew, with authentic touches in demeanor (older sister has a sulky preteen slouch) and in their behavior in the dark (a lot of shadow-puppetry in the flashlight's glow, some opportunistic handholding by Mom and Dad). Colors are understandably shadowy (textured with intriguingly geometric hatching lines), but there's a clever balance of cool and warm in the spreads, and the inventive perspectives and panel sequences keep the energy high despite the late hour. This will be a nice reassurance for kids afraid of the dark, and most audiences will simply relish the notion of a spontaneous old-timey party.—BCCB

The view inside this family of four's duplex depicts what might be a typical night for them. The younger child is reaching for a board game, her older sister is talking on the phone, dad is cooking, and mom is working at the computer. When the girl tries to enlist the others to play the game with her, they're all too busy until "The lights went out. All of them." It's a blackout! At first, the family members sit at the kitchen table with a flashlight and some candles; then they head up to the roof for a look at the bright stars against the dark cityscape; and, finally, they go down to the street, where there's a festive atmosphere of guitars playing, free ice cream, and an open fire hydrant. In the end, readers will see that simple pleasures and a spirit of togetherness can be enjoyed even when the electricity comes back on. The colorful pictures work beautifully with the book's design. Rocco uses comic-strip panels and a brief text to convey the atmosphere of a lively and almost magical urban landscape. Great bedtime reading for a soft summer night.—SLJ

It's a scenario many kids are probably all too familiar with: a young boy wants to play, but older sis is gabbing on the phone, Mom is busy on the computer, and Dad is making dinner. When the power goes out, however, the family comes together to make shadow puppets on the wall, join the neighbors on the roof to admire the stars, and even head out front to the most idyllic city street you'll ever see. All good things come to an end, though. The power comes back on, and everyone immediately slips back into walled-off family units-though the walls are a bit weaker now. Compositionally, this picture book bears a strong resemblance to Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen (1970), breaking some of the pages into comicsstyle panels and running a boxed narrative up top. Rocco's lustrous, animation-quality artwork somehow manages to get richer the darker it gets, and features one of the silkiest skies since Van Gogh's Starry Night. A versatile reminder to take a break and invest in quality together time once in a while.—Booklist

"It started out as a normal summer night"-until the lights go out, citywide. When it gets "too hot and sticky" inside their apartment (no fans or AC tonight), one busy family (mom, dad, two girls and a black cat) heads to the rooftop of their building, where they find light via stars and a block party "in the sky." Other parties are happening down on the street, too. When the lights come back on, everything returns to normal, except for this family, which continues to enjoy the dark. The plot line, conveyed with just a few sentences, is simple enough, but the dramatic illustrations illuminate the story. Beginning with the intriguing cover-the silhouetted family on their rooftop under a vast, dark-blue sky dotted with Starry Night type swirls, black is used as both a backdrop and a highlighter. Page composition effectively intermingles boxed pages and panels with double-page spreads, generating action. Brilliantly designed, with comic bits such as a portrait of Edison on a wall and the cat running from a hand shadow of a dog. Not all young readers will have experienced a blackout, but this engaging snapshot could easily have them wishing for one.—Kirkus

From the Author

It is not often, in this digital age, that we get a chance to stop, to really stop and just be. Be in the moment. Be with our families. Be with our neighbors. Be one with our community. Sometimes, when the lights go out, it's a good thing. It can be magical. This book is about a family who discovers that magic during one hot summer night in the city. 
As a kid growing up in Rhode Island, I remember quite a few blackouts. They were usually caused by lightning or snow storms, and when the lights and television flickered out and plunged our house into darkness it was always exciting. My dad would check the fuse box, and my mom would run around lighting candles while my sister and I would look out the windows to see how far the blackout stretched. I remember one time my mom actually cooked dinner on top of our wood stove!
When I was doing research for this book I interviewed a lot of people about their own experience during the huge blackout of 2003. Occurring only two years after the tragedies of 9/11, I assumed most people would have panicked, and although some did, I was surprised to learn that most people really, truly enjoyed it. Yes, they had to walk home through the oppressive heat, and yes, some didn't even make it home that night, but the people of New York City opened their doors, opened their hearts, let down their hair and celebrated. 
I hope you enjoy this book. 
John Rocco

More About the Author

I love books. The fact that I get to make books for a living still thrills me everyday. I write and illustrate picture books and novels for children as well as illustrate books for older readers. Many of my books have received prestigious awards including my New York Times Bestselling book, BLACKOUT which received the Caldecott Honor. I am also the illustrator for Rick Riordan's blockbuster series' Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles and Heroes of Olympus.
I didn't always make books. Before embarking on full time work as an author/illustrator I worked as an art director in the entertainment business. Movies, television, theme parks and museums were my canvas. It was great work and I enjoyed every minute of it, but...
Did I tell you I love books?

Customer Reviews

Engaging and unique wording.
mackenzie
I have read this book to my three year old son dozens of times and every night he still asks for it.
JMR
The illustrations are great and the story is simple the follow.
mama joyjoy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Madigan McGillicuddy on July 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Verdoonie on March 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mama joyjoy on August 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JMR on June 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Catherine W. Hughes on June 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ryan J. Dejonghe TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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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