Book Review: Blackout by John Rocco


Blackout by John Rocco

It was a normal summer night in the city.  That meant it was hot and noisy.  In their apartment, the family was busy.  Her older sister was on the phone.  Her dad was cooking.  Her mother was using the computer.  Everyone was much too busy to play a board game with her.  So she started playing a video game on her own.  Until the lights went out all over the city.  At first, the family huddled in the dark near their candles.  But then as it got hotter and hotter inside, they headed to the roof where they found a party going on.  They headed out to the street where there were more people enjoying the blackout.  The family wasn’t busy anymore.  But what would happen when the lights came back on?

Rocco tells this story in a nearly wordless format, allowing the illustrations to carry the story itself.  The illustrations are framed like a graphic novel, giving the entire book a hip feel.  Rocco’s illustrations have a wonderful play of light and dark, celebrating the stars, candlelight, the cool glow of a screen, and the warm yellow of flashlight beams.

This is a book about slowing down, enjoying the time together, and yet the book never becomes didactic or preachy.

Share this with a group of children, but prepare to have some time with the lights off to allow them to have their own adventures in the dark.  Just a few candles around the room, and it’s magical.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Check out the trailer!


Book Review: Animals Home Alone by Loes Riphagen


Animals Home Alone by Loes Riphagen

When the humans leave the house, the animals are left all alone and do some wild and silly things.  In this wordless book by a Dutch illustrator, there are fifteen animals to try and keep track of.  From one page to the next, they escape their confines, eat things, watch TV, and even fall in love and have babies.  The front endpages have the animals’ names while the rear ones have questions about what happened in the story.  It’s a fun book that requires eagle eyes to spot everything.  It’s not a book you can read entirely in the first sitting.

Riphagen’s illustrations have a great quirky quality to them that adds to the humor and silly feel of the book.  With the crowded page, bright colors and engaging animals, this book has so much to look at and see.  Then add the stories that each of the animal characters is engaged in and you will find yourself flipping back and forth pages to figure out how the jam was spilled, why the goldfish is now yellow, and what happened in the bathroom!

A visual game that has some very funny moments built into the various storylines, this book will be a hit with children who enjoy Where’s Waldo and I Spy books.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Seven Footer Press.

Also reviewed by Bookie Woogie.

New British Children’s Laureate Announced


Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, has been appointed as the new children’s laureate, following the term of Anthony Browne.  Donaldson is the first Scottish-based laureate.  She has been a children’s book author for over 20 years and is best known for her picture books. 

Librarians will be happy to hear of her plans for her tenure:

"Maybe I’ll be able to talk to the minister of culture and persuade the government to have some kind of overall plan because at the moment I feel all the library cuts and closures are very piecemeal, so I’ll do what I can," she added.