Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Blackout Book Poster Image
Beautiful book captures the magic after lights go out.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value
When the city goes dark, "nothing works." Parents can point out to children how many everyday tools and devices don't work without electricity. They also can explain why the stars suddenly seem so bright over the city.
Positive Messages
Everyone needs a break from being busy, this story shows, and sometimes you need to create opportunities to disconnect from distractions and reconnect with each other.
Positive Role Models & Representations
The entire family appreciates being nudged to reconnect and relax together. Even when they're "busy," the parents appear regretful and not dismissive. (The big sister talking on the phone, however, acts like a typical big sister!)
Violence & Scariness
A child is frightened to find herself plunged into darkness, but she's soon comforted and embraces the dark.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Blackout celebrates family and community coming together without distraction or devices. The sudden darkness is at first startling, but quickly takes on a cozy, celebratory atmosphere.

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What's the story?

It's a typical hot, noisy night in the city. A child wants to play a board game, but everyone else in the family is too busy. Then the lights go out -- all across the city. Nothing works. The family leaves their sweltering apartment and heads to the roof, where the stars shine bright and their neighbors are having a "block party in the sky." Down below, kids splash in water from an open hydrant, enjoy free ice cream, and make music. When the lights come back on, everyone goes back to what they were doing before … until the young child clicks off the light. And the family gathers round for a board game by candlelight.

Is it any good?

In an age of digital distractions, a power outage is a major disruption -- and, as John Rocco illustrates in this beautiful picture book, a rare opportunity. Instead of pining for the mythical good old days, when people didn't spend hours a day staring at screens, this book shares the pleasure of powering down and enjoying the moment.
Rocco's work is familiar to older readers who are fans of Rick Riordan: Rocco has illustrated the Percy Jackson, Kane Chronicles, and Heroes of Olympus series. In Blackout, his gorgeous artwork features strong lines and saturated colors. Comic-style panels and minimal text let the pictures speak for themselves.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they like to do when the power goes out. Have a pretend blackout: Switch off the lights and screens, get out candles and flashlights, and enjoy the evening.
  • The power outage interrupts the father's cooking, the mother's computer work, and the daughter's phone call. It's an annoyance, but the entire family is able to enjoy the blackout. Families can talk about looking on the bright side when things seem to go badly.
  • Families can talk about what life might have been like before electricity. What did people do at night?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and family stories

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