A tale reminiscent, but falling short, of John Rocco’s 2012 Caldecott honor book, Blackout, depicts a boy longing for time with his big brother.
First-person, retrospective narration recounts how, when the family moves to a new house, the boys build a treehouse with their father. A happy summertime ensues, with the brothers ensconced in their treetop perch, playing cards and reading comics. When they try to stargaze, though, city lights obscure the starlight. A year later, the little brother forlornly explains that this summer his elder sibling would rather hang out with friends than spend time with him. “So now I’m king of the castle. I can do whatever I want up here,” reads text accompanied by a picture showing him as anything but happy about this prospect. Then a blackout occurs, and stars are suddenly visible. Neighbors pour into the street, using candles and flashlights and sharing ice cream before it melts. Best of all, the big brother ascends the treehouse ladder to play cards and look at comics by flashlight again. Even when the lights return and neighbors go inside, the brothers keep playing in the treehouse. The strongest illustrations follow the lead of the darkened cover art, but the book never achieves the visual brilliance of Rocco’s more distinguished work.
A melancholy story of changing relationships rather than a celebration of the excitement of a blackout. (Picture book. 3-6)