When I first saw the title Doug Unplugged, I was able to guess the moral of this story. On the cover, there was an adorable young robot boy holding the plug of his cord and smiling. I have so often had to lecture my young girls about walking away from devices that I made a very simple rule for video games or computers: If it’s not for school, no electronic devices may be used from Monday to Friday, and may only be used during limited hours on weekends… unless there’s a storm, blizzard, or robot invasion. So I admit I come to this book with some bias. I like my kids to “unplug.”
Doug is a sweet little robot whose robot parents want him to be as smart as possible. They plug him in every morning so he can download all the information he could possibly need. One day, as he was sitting there downloading, he gets distracted by a pigeon. His curiosity gets the best of him, and he unplugs! He wanders around his city, truly experiencing life, nature, and even friendship and love. All those nuances and intangibles he can’t learn from his daily download are easily perceived and understood from just one day of adventure.
While this is pretty parent-oriented subject matter, Dan Yaccarino has created a very interesting story for young children from preschool to early elementary level. His illustrations are wonderful and very Jestons-esque in their simplicity and “futuristic” appeal. Children will be able to relate to Doug and his experiences, and maybe they’ll reflect and see that they better understand and enjoy learning when they actively participate and experience things. This is a great book to kick off summer. As well all pry the iEverythings and handheld games out of the grasp of our little ones, we can remind them of the fun and friendship Doug finds when he unplugs.