Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Blackout

Too good not to share - thanks, Shakira Harris.

Rocco, J. (2011). Blackout. New York: Disney Hyperion Books.

        John Rocco's, Black Out is a Caldecott Honor book that will speak to many families all over the world. In this creative colorful story we see the modern family who is too consumed with their priorities to take time to play a board game with the youngest son. The protagonist of the story walks around toting his board game but is rejected by his sister and parents, because they are either cooking the perfect gourmet dinner or chatting on the internet and phone. The author uses the literary device onomatopoeia to add voice to the story.
      The illustrator creatively uses white trim around the scenes, which makes it seem like a comic book.When the page bleeds right as the story reaches the climax the suspense rises. The illustrator creatively blacks out most of the pages when the lights go out all over the city. There is even a page of complete darkness that bleeds into the scene where the main characters yells in big letters, mom!  This fits with the title perfectly and adds to the change in the mood.  After the lights go out the family gathers at the kitchen table with the flashlights and candles. The family then migrates to the roof top where many families were gathering. The dialogue then switches from third person to third person. The main character begins to tell what the family did next.The words and phrases in the story are short and too the point. The family then migrates to the street and are amazed at the party going on. The illustrations show the people doing all of the traditional fun things that people used to do in the streets of New York in the summer time. 
     As the family begins to bond, while enjoying ice cream, the light comes back on. As they walk back inside the reader may think that the family is going to go back to their normal activities. The protagonist then does the unthinkable and turns the lights out. 
    This story would be great to use in social studies classes when studying the ancient civilizations who did not have electricity. Some civilizations would even sleep outside on rooftops when the summer nights were too hot. This is a great story that realistically shows what goes on in modern households. 
     I enjoyed the shadows that the illustrator created throughout the story. It was very powerful when the lights went out and the dad made the puppet rabbit figure on the wall that scared the cat away. The use of light and darkness really made the story realistic. 
Big Idea Question: How would each member in your family react, and what would you all do to pass the time if the electricity went out for hours? 

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