Unplugged: Ella Gets Her Family Back by Laura Pedersen; illustrated by Penny Weber. Ages 4+. Tilbury House Publishers. Oct. 2012. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-0884483373 $16.95 Fiction.
Why Am I Reviewing this Book? My son, my husband, and I all enjoyed this book and hope more people will read it and use this book as a catalyst for adopting screen-free family times.
The Short: This book is fantastic! It makes me feel like I’m not crazy for not letting my son get plugged in yet to television, apps, or cell phones. This is a great book for all families and is a gentle request for families to unplug and remember to spend time with each other. If you check on Amazon you’ll see that it has 10 five-star reviews and it has received a Mom’s Choice Gold Award. It’s a fantastic book that is entertaining and gently asks you to assess being constantly plugged in and the toll that it can take on your family. We highly, highly recommend this book.
The Long: This story is about Ella, the youngest of three. She is tired of being ignored and overlooked by the other members of her family. She has a hard time connecting with her family because they are all so engaged with their personal electronic device of choice. On a typical morning, her father is busy reading the news, her mother is on her cell phone, her brother is playing video games, and her sister is texting. She wants her family back. She wants to spend time with them and not just be near them while they are plugged in. When Ella can’t take it anymore, she finds all of the chargers, ipods, and video games in the house and puts them in a laundry basket. In the place of the items she has collected she leaves a note that says, “Talk to Ella.” When her family members find the note they come to her. She gives them back her chargers, etc. but not before she makes it clear that she misses them and misses spending time with them. The next day, her family is unplugged and waiting for her. They have decided that they will have Friday evenings and Sunday mornings as designated unplugged family time.
This book is straightforward. It isn’t edgy or funny or trying to be cool — it’s a completely approachable book about what it must be like for a child to be surrounded by others who are always else-wise engrossed in technology.
This book is complex enough to make adults think and assess their lives but simple enough that my son understood it right away. The illustrations are terrific. The characters are drawn with a realism that I find interesting to look at, but cartoony enough to appeal to my son. The vocabulary is well within reach for my son so that he understands the plot, but he still learned more words like jinx.
We’ve read this book over and over again and there have been several times that my son has brought the book and asked me to read it to him. I am only too happy to read this book to him. If there is anything I can do to promote moderation in technology to prevent intense addiction later, I’ll do it. I have no doubt that reading and re-reading this book to him over the years will help me succeed. I’m also sure that it will help him understand that technology is good and useful, but needs to be tempered and not used at the expense of spending time with his family.
I’m so happy that someone wrote a book addressing this issue. It is so easy to get caught up in our own technology bubble and unplugging to spend time with our families is an important way to say that we love them.
We loved the book and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
FTC Disclosures: I received a review copy from the author. No other compensation was received. The opinions expressed here are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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