Great Illustrated Books


By John Rocco

Disney/Hyperion, 2011
Pages : 40
Suggested Ages: 4-8
ISBN: 9781423121909

In this plugged-in world we live in, can you imagine the panic one family feels when the lights go out in the city one hot summer night? Well-known author and illustrator John Rocco was inspired to write this book after the widespread blackout in New York City in 2003, when the typically bustling city was rendered dark and quiet by a massive electrical outage.

"It started out as a normal summer night," and the young boy in the book is bored. Everyone in his family is too busy to play with him: his older sister is on the phone, Dad is cooking dinner, Mom is working on the computer. So he settles on a video game. All of a sudden, the power goes out, and the whole neighborhood is left in the dark. The phones, the computers, the TV, the kitchen stove, are all useless. In an attempt to escape the dark, frustrating heat, the family heads up to the roof of their building where they get a bird's-eye view of their block ... and there's a party going on! The whole neighborhood has come outdoors and come alive as a result of the blackout. A change of attitude shows the family that a blackout provides an opportunity for fun, and they decide to join right in. When the electricity eventually returns, things can go back to normal, but will the family still want their old "normal?"

The bold artwork is in the style of a comic book or graphic novel, incorporating panel drawings, full page color illustrations, and everything in between. The illustrations carry the weight of the story more so than the sparse text, and Rocco does a brilliant job of conveying the message through pictures.

Blackout is a great reminder that sometimes taking time to unplug will bring more fun than you can imagine. Though many younger readers may not have experienced a blackout firsthand, this wonderful book will have them wishing for one!

Book Trailer for Blackout:

Reviewed by : KSD


If you love this book, then try:

Muth. Jon J. Zen Shorts. Scholastic Press, 2005.

Fucile, Tony. Let's Do Nothing! Candlewick, 2009.

Barton, Chris and Tom Lichtenheld. Shark vs. Train. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010.

Chabon, Michael and Jake Parker. The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man. Balzer + Bray, 2011.

Critics have said

Rocco's sublime account of a city blackout reveals a bittersweet truth: it sometimes takes a crisis to bring a family together.
Publishers Weekly