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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blackout Response

We are reading aloud John Rocco's Blackout to the classes this week during library time. Both my teaching partner and I love this book, and the children are mesmerized by the incredible artwork and by the idea of a blackout. The light emanating from just the flashlight and candle create an intense brightness in the apartment, on the rooftop, and in the street. Because the text is intentionally sparse, the illustrations must be read. It is a skill most children learn when they are very young, but when they become readers of text, they often adopt the attitude that reading pictures is for the younger students. This book draws observant minds into the illustrations. Many notice how the rooftop scene looks similar to Van Gogh's Starry Night. All notice how the main character decides to flip the light switch to the off position after the power is restored, just to take back the lack of busyness the blackout established for a brief time.

Far from black, the sunny Dale Chihuly creation hanging in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts lobby seemed the best accompaniment to Blackout.


  1. I'm not familiar with this book, but will keep my eyes open for it. I love the notion that younger kids might be better readers of illustrations than older children.

    The glass sculpture, however, I recognized immediately from my trips to the Institute of Arts and the Children's Theatre!

  2. I so cherish my first experience with this book with you by my side. I wonder if it would have delighted me as much if I'd come upon it on my own. There is a great deal to be said in support of sharing the experience of a book. And you do that each time you introduce a book to young readers. What a wonderful impact you are having on the world. Certainly as bright and deeply complex as a piece of Chihuly glass.

  3. I enjoyed listening to the book and my students' responses. One boy said, "It seems like when things get dark, families get stronger." It made me sit up and think, and made me want a second reading to think about his connection. Fifteen minutes later, my class was discussing Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia, when someone said, "In the darkest moments,families come together." I got chills and reminded my class that I'd just heard a similar message about the book read at library story time today and liked how perceptive 5th graders truly are.