August 18, 2014
Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino
by Dan Yaccarino
Alfred A. Knopf
Every day, a young bot named Doug is plugged in by his parents. They plug him to fill him up with facts. On the day he learns about the city, he learns about the number of people, trash cans, man holes, pigeons and more. As these facts flow into his brain, something grabs Doug’s attention…
He instantly recognizes the bird on the windowsill as a pigeon but no where in the download did Doug hear the funny noise the pigeon makes. What else is he missing?
With that question in mind, Doug unplugs.
On the surface, this is a fun story about a boy who ventures out into the city and makes a friend, learns more about the city than ever before and even learns a bit about a whole new topic — family.
On a deeper level, this is a story about the modern age, a time when we can learn more than ever before without ever interacting with another human being or feeling the sun on our faces. We can learn a lot, but we fail to learn just as much.
Yaccarino’s illustrations are, appropriately enough, composed with a brush and ink as well as finishing touches on Photoshop. Bold bright colors give a cartoon-feel to a topic that could easily become to weighty and serious. The vintage 1960s look of the artwork compliments the “here-and-now” feel of the story.
At only 555 words, this is a quick read. It has a cozy enough feel for a bed time story. The topic lends itself to discussion, but it doesn’t have the lively chorus of many story time books. That said, it would make a good lead into a talk about learning, technology or experience.
Plug into this one with the young reader in your life.