Unplugged (Steve Antony)

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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!

SOIC & SOT: The Microchips (Jeffrey C. Dunnihoo)

Hello, friends! Our book today is SOIC & SOT: The Microchips, written by Jeffrey C. Dunnihoo and illustrated by Simona M. Ceccarelli, the tale of two young microchips fulfilling their destiny.

SOIC and SOT are best friends, even though they have never spoken. Growing up on neighboring packaging reels in a quiet warehouse, the two have always been able to see each other, but never able to speak – they don’t know how yet. One day, their box is selected and brought to a manufacturing room, and the friends are separated. SOIC is sent through a machine where he is picked up and placed into a mainframe, then attached using goopy silver stuff and a warm oven. The process is scary, but soon SOIC finds that he is not alone – he now has new friends to meet. And when he is connected to something called The Network, he begins to use his own voice to learn and listen to the wider world around him – perhaps even to recognize the voice of an old friend…

Absolutely FANTASTIC. This story had so many positive qualities – an in-depth yet easily-understood look at how computers are made; a powerful metaphor for growing up, leaving home, and finding your voice; a sweet story of how friendship can carry across distances. The illustrations are stellar, managing to make tiny bits of metal into sympathetic and adorable characters. And don’t miss scanning the QR codes hidden throughout the art, which take readers to a website that explains the story’s technology in more detail. There’s a small issue of titles that are indistinguishable from neighboring text, making them look like odd interjections, and some scary moments that might make younger bookworms a little nervous. But the length was great, JJ loved it, and so did I. An amazing way to help little ones connect with STEM, and we can’t wait to see more. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

#BabyLove: My Toddler Life (Corine Dehghanpisheh)


Note: A review copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the book’s publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Hello, everybody! Our book today is #BabyLove: My Toddler Life by Corine Dehghanpisheh, a sweet story about the importance of balancing screen time and family time.

A little boy and his mommy have lots of fun playing together, and mommy takes lots of pictures with her phone to share with their friends and family. When Mommy is not looking, the boy takes the phone and plays with it, even though he knows he’s not supposed to. Mommy finds him and explains that the phone is not a toy, and while phones can be fun to play with and can record precious memories, it’s important to know when (and by whom) they should be used, and when they should be put aside so that mommies and babies can enjoy each other’s company.

This was a neat book that addresses a pretty modern issue: the balance of children and technology/social media. It can be a difficult balance to find for some families, and every family has different views about what their standards are (while JJ obviously has a sizable internet presence, something her daddy and I discussed and agreed upon before we started our blog, we have friends and family members whose children have virtually no internet presence at all – neither choice is the wrong one, it’s all about what each family is comfortable with). I think this book did a good job of impressing that no matter how big or small an influence social media and technology is in a little one’s childhood, using said technology responsibly, and balancing it with unplugged family time, is important. Otherwise, the simple, colorful illustrations were very cute, the story was a good length for baby bookworms, and JJ liked it. Baby Bookworm approved!