February 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: Blackout | DVD

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Blackout. DVD. 7 min. Weston Woods. 2013. ISBN 978-0-545-57146-3. $59.95; CD, ISBN 978-0-545-57147-0: $12.95; CD with hardcover book, ISBN 978-0-545-57149-4: $29.95.
PreS–Gr 3–Where were you when the lights went out on August 14, 2003? John Rocco’s Caldecott Honor book (Hyperion, 2011) presents a worthy portrayal of that iconic night inNew York City. It’s a hot, sticky summer evening, filled with jazzy clarinet riffs and city sounds of horns and garbage trucks. “And then, the lights…went…out. All of them!” Suddenly, the busy city is dark and eerily still. Folks get out their flashlights and candles, slowly rediscover their families and their town, and have the time to notice one another. People gather on rooftops and streets, enjoying impromptu barbecues, free gelato, music, and the starlight above. Transformed, the entire city becomes one big block party. Soup2Nuts has animated the book with gleeful shadow puppetry and sweet synchronicity. Narrator Stanley Tucci gets the pauses just right, and shows his range with whispery words and raucous shouts. Best of all is David Mansfield’s original bossa nova background music, in Carlos Santana style, that catches the mood with infectious rhythms. Pre- and post-viewing activities are provided in liner notes, including excellent recommendations to compare and contrast nonfiction archival articles from a decade ago with this fictional account. The DVD can also serve as an ideal writing prompt, using “What if…” scenarios suggested in the outstanding author interview. Rocco, a talented illustrator, has created an inspirational glimpse of a community coming together in a crisis.–Lonna Pierce, MacArthur and Thomas Jefferson Elementary Schools,Binghamton,NY