You won’t get that in my featured book for the One Shot of Book City. Blackout, by John Rocco, is both a tribute to the city and a nod to serenity. The story takes place in New York during the famous 2003 blackout. A family is dispersed throughout the house enjoying their God-given right to electricity, when BAM! Power’s out. Everywhere. They head to the roof to escape the summer heat and find the stars filling the night sky and neighbors socializing and it’s all simply fun. When the lights come back, they’ve remembered that sometimes they can have fun without electricity — even when they aren’t forced to do so. The city and the family can return to normal, but keep a little of that special time alive. Let me just interject how much I love the family here. A realistic group with mom busy on the computer and older sister on the cell phone, they also have a look of unspecified racial diversity.
The book is laid out in a modified graphic novel style, though with narrated text as opposed to dialogue. As such, the expressions of the people are needed to help tell the story. The surprise on the family’s faces as they look out on a darkened city. The boredom as they sit around the table expecting the electricity to come back. The stunned wonder as they come out to the roof and see stars — no small thing for city folk to see. Within the dark tones of the illustration, the stories of what becomes a sort of magical night is captured beautifully. Stories like these:
A book not to be missed, Blackout is on the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2011, Publisher’s Weekly Best of 2011 and is being talked about in terms of a Caldecott Award. John Rocco is a great guy, too. Check out an interview with him at Seven Impossible Things and visit his website, you know, just to say hi. Because he’s a nice guy, as evidenced by my own BEA encounter. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the other city books organized today at Chasing Ray.
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