Unplugged (Steve Antony)


Hello, friends! Our book today is Unplugged by Steve Antony, a sweet story about balancing screen time with the real world.

A little robot named Blip loves being plugged into her computer. There’s so much to do and see inside her magic machine: she can play games, learn things, explore far off places, and much more. That is, until the day a power outage and a trip down her stairs rolls her, quite unexpectedly, out into the real world. Quickly taken under wing by a friendly duck, fawn, and bunny, the little robot is fascinated to find that the real world also holds so many wonderful things, including fresh new ways to learn, play, and explore. Having spent the day trying all manner of new things, Blip eventually finds her way back home. She sadly parts ways with her new friends and heads back upstairs to plug in. But now, her virtual world seems a little flat and gray; perhaps Blip has learned that there’s more to life than her computer screen…

Clever and sweet. Antony’s work is very popular in our house (his Mr. Panda series is one of JJ’s all-time favorites), and it’s easy to see why: the art is simple, charming, and witty; his stories are succinct yet fun, and yet always have a clear message to discuss with readers. This one, about the importance of balancing screen time with real-world interactions, is a valuable one right now. The story and art keep the message impactful yet brief; Antony cleverly uses monochrome colors to show Blip’s digital life, then contrasts this with classic storybook pastels in her adventures outside. That, along with a wonderful set of spreads that juxtaposes individual digital vs. real world activities, does as much to tell the story as the text does. It keeps the length of the story extremely manageable, and allows for a jumping off point for discussions between kids and their caregivers. JJ really enjoyed little Blip, and so did I. A smart modern parable, and we recommend it: Baby Bookworm approved!

Good Night, Mr. Panda (Steve Antony)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Good Night, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony, a wonderful fourth entry to one of our favorite series.

The hilariously taciturn Mr. Panda is back – this time in adorable doughnut pajamas – with a lesson in proper bedtime routine etiquette. He notes, matter-of-factly, when his fellow animals have skipped a step: Skunk has missed his bath (which he claims to take only once a year), the sheep aren’t wearing pajamas, and stinky breath is a sure sign that Hippo hasn’t brushed her teeth. The perky lemur from the previous two books is happy to point out that he is minty fresh and squeaky clean! Only one more thing left to do before bedtime: say goodnight!

If you’ve read our previous reviews of this series, you know: I LOVE Mr. Panda. JJ LOVES Mr. Panda. The stone-faced bear in his wonderfully colorful outfits, set with a lively cast of characters against colorblock backgrounds, teaching manners and, in this case, good hygiene? Simply put, a winning mix. As always, the story features plenty of opportunities for fun voices when read aloud, and a hilarious twist ending that will have kids rolling. The length is great, and we adored it. Antony continues his stellar series with another delightful installment, and a perfect bedtime one at that. Baby Bookworm approved!

Thank You, Mr. Panda (Steve Antony)

Hello, friends! Today’s review is a new addition to our home library, Thank You, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony, the third book in the wonderful Mr. Panda series.

Little Lemur sees that Mr. Panda has an armful of gifts, and asks who they are for. Mr. Panda replies that they’re for his friends, so Lemur accompanies him as he hands out handmade presents to Mouse, Octopus, Elephant and Mountain Goat. None of the animals are quite pleased with their gifts (which are all ill-fitting clothes), but Lemur reminds them that it’s the thought that counts. And in fact, the last gift is for Lemur himself: a too-large pair of underwear! But Lemur still remembers to say “Thank you, Mr. Panda!”; after all, it’s important to have good manners!

As with its predecessors, this book is a subtle and fun lesson in manners, obviously placing the emphasis on showing gratitude when someone gives you a thoughtful gift, even if it isn’t perfect. And as with the previous two books, we loved the visual gags, the colorful and lively art, and the adorably gruff Mr. Panda. However, I did miss a theme that the previous two books had shared: the animal friend that displayed the good manners came away with the greatest reward. Here, Lemur is the only one of Mr. Panda’s friends who remembers to say thank you, yet still ends up with a gift he can’t really use. Perhaps this wouldn’t have bothered me so if the best present of the bunch, a pile of delicious donuts, had not gone to perhaps the rudest animal of all (the elephant, who did not even open the gift when it was given). It threw me for a bit of a loop, considering the previous two books shared this plot device, but I suppose that could be the point: it truly is the thought that counts. Regardless, the length was great, and JJ still adored her grumpy panda as always, so this one is still very much Baby Bookworm approved.

I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda (Steve Antony)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony, the second book in the adorable series on manners starring Mr. Panda.

Opening on the dour Mr. Panda, who is back to his love of baking treats for those polite enough to warrant them. This time, many animals stop by to ask about his activities. An anteater inquires after cookies. A rabbit and his colony wonders if it’s cupcakes this time. To each curious visitor, Mr. Panda instructs them simply to wait and see, as it is a surprise. Yet, rudely, each animal decides that waiting is not for them and make their departures… that is, except for one little penguin who promises to wait patiently for Mr. Panda to finish his masterpiece. And at last, when the delicious treat is finished, the penguin is in for a generous surprise to reward his patience and good manners.

We absolutely loved the previous book in this series, Please, Mr. Panda, and its follow-up did not disappoint! The beauty of these stories are the simple way they teach and reinforce good manners, and this one definitely brought home the virtues, and spoils, of being patient. The wonderful hodgepodge of animals that Mr. Panda encounters is still lots of fun to give voice to when reading aloud, especially Mr. Panda’s terse, succinct, yet oddly endearing style of speech. The art and text layouts are simple yet wonderfully expressive, and the length is great. This is a favorite bedtime story of ours, and a great way to teach little readers that patience is a virtue often rewarded. Baby Bookworm approved!

Please, Mr. Panda (Steve Antony)

Hello, friends! If JJ seems a little more rosy-cheeked than usual, it’s because she woke up with a cold! Poor baby. Still, we were able to get our reading in today: we read Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony, a short and sweet tale about the importance of the magic word.

Mr. Panda has some doughnuts. He grumpily offers the doughnuts to several animals, but when they rudely demand one doughnut or the other, Mr. Panda finds he has changed his mind and rescinds his offer. Finally, a little lemur asks Mr. Panda if he may have a donut: “Please, Mr. Panda?” he asks. And wouldn’t you know, Panda gives him all the doughnuts – he just wanted someone to say please.

This was a funny little book. It’s rather short, which actually makes is great for baby bookworms and young readers. Plus, the lesson is a classic one: having good manners is important, and can have wonderful rewards. The illustrations are simple and cute, and overall, JJ liked it a lot – especially grumpy old Mr. Panda. So this one is Baby Bookworm approved!