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!