Hyperion Books/Disney Book Group: NY, 2011.
Caldecott Medal 2012
Our society, our world moves so fast. New York City is the epitomy of this concept. It is exciting to be surrounded by a constantly moving and noisy city, but humans need rest, down time, the enjoyment of simple things and just being together without all of the frills. This story is about that need. It draws on the recent experience (2003) of a forced down time, when there was an electric blackout throughout the Northeastern US, also affecting the Midwest and Ontario, Canada. For New York City, this is an anomally. Parts of the city may lose power, but usually somewhere else has it. For my home (Maine), it is less rare. It tends to not last long, but we are familiar with the need of simple entertainment and the basic level of sharing time and sometimes necessities.
The story is told mostly through illustrations, with concise text. It is very effective. I like the dark greyscale through much of the blackout, for a change. The initial letdown when the power goes out is not there, but the excitement that comes with the new experience is. The discovery of the stars and neighbors' activities are a bonus. It is reminiscent of a simpler time, when people were less reliant on electricity. I have been watching the Ken Burns Jazz documentary with my kids recently. There is a similar feeling in glimpses of poorer neighborhoods, in the episodes, as much of it takes place during the 1930s.
A trailer for the book includes New York City inhabitants talking about their experience during the blackout. Very nice!
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