This is another book that is getting moved to the front of my review queue, partly because it is so fabulous, and partly because someone else has put it on hold from the library so I have to return it. John Rocco's Blackout is brand-new to the shelves and you may have seen it making it's rounds in internetland. In fact, it has been written about so much that there is hardly any point in my writing about it... and yet here I am.
The recent hot weather and my inability to run the a/c due to my 2 year old's opinion that playing with it buttons is a hilarious activity has reminded me of my first city blackout experience. It is also the one on which this book is based. In 2003, the huge Northeast power failure that shut down places from Ohio to New York. I remember walking home and feeling so incredibly fortunate that I was not on the subway at the time! I have an irrational fear of being trapped underground, and being stuck on the subway at such a moment would not have been good for my sanity.
While the overall "message" of the book is that families have more fun together rather than sitting separately in front of various electronic machines, the city scenes are a joy to look at. At the start of the book, the city is "loud and hot." But during the blackout, it's clear that while the city is still loud and hot, the noises are voices rather than machines, and the heat is mitigated with ice cream and fire hydrants rather than air conditioners. One of the city details that appealed to me most was when the family went up to the rooftops to see the stars and the neighbors had a "block party in the sky." I wonder if non-city dwellers realize how much of a role the rooftops of buildings play in urban culture. I certainly didn't know before I moved to NYC.
In any case, there's no need to wait for a blackout to enjoy this book.
Read a more thorough review at NY Times.
Read an interview and see more lovely artwork at Seven Impossible Things or E. Dulemba's blog.
Watch the (very cute) trailer on you tube.
Enjoy another rooftops-at-night book, At Night.
Big Kid says: Let's turn off the lights.
Little Kid says: Night sky! Where's the moon?