Reviews for Doug Unplugged

Booklist Reviews 2013 January #1
Yaccarino's gentle humor, whimsy, and panache is on full display in this picture book celebrating the difference between virtual and real-life learning. Young Doug is a robot who is plugged in by his parents every morning so that he can absorb as many facts as possible. Happy downloading, his dad calls as he heads to work, leaving Doug to learn all about cities. What looks like it might be a tale of parental pressure on young students instead turns into a cheerful story of discovery. Doug has no sooner downloaded vital statistics about pigeons when he sees a live one on the windowsill. Bot follows bird, and the fun begins. Yaccarino's illustrations are deceptively simple in their generous use of primary colors and bold lines; they invest the story with tangible vibrancy. The expression of sheer joy as Doug, all wide-mouthed enthusiasm, scatters a flock of pigeons or plays with a new friend is enough to convince any reader that unscripted learning is still the most satisfying way to plug into the world around us. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
Curious about a pigeon on his window sill, Doug, a smart little robot boy, unplugs himself from downloading facts to go out and explore the city; he meets a real little boy and learns about play and the value of real experiences. Though some elements of the story are contrived, both the stylish, retro-looking illustrations and the enduring message are nicely understated.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 January #2
A little robot boy goes on an urban adventure. Each morning, Doug's parents plug him in so that he can download lots of facts and become "the smartest robot ever." On the second spread, Doug sits atop a stool, plugged into a computer that looks like ENIAC, with the goal of learning all about the city. He waves goodbye to his parents as they walk off the verso, briefcases in hand, presumably headed off to work. The next page opening has the appearance of a circuit board or retro video game screen, with a tiny picture of plugged-in Doug in the upper-left corner. The spread is designed like a map through everything he is to learn that day, complete with a yellow line highlighting his planned path to various points, with facts about taxis, fountains, skyscrapers, pigeons and so on. When Doug sees a real pigeon on his windowsill, he decides to unplug and venture out to learn about the city in person. He encounters everything from the screen, but the best part of his adventure comes when he befriends a boy in the park. They play together until the boy realizes he doesn't know where his parents are, and then Doug helps reunite them--only to decide he wants to go home, following the classic home-away-home story arc. Yaccarino's retro palette and style suit this robot tale to a T. A lively, colorful celebration of unmediated living. (Picture book. 3-5) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 December #4

Doug, a robot child who's a cross between Elroy Jetson and Rolie Polie Olie, plugs a cable into his belly button to process information. Marching out the door with their briefcases, his automaton parents wish him "Happy downloading!" Against a motherboard backdrop, readers see Doug accessing numerical data about his urban area ("There are 8,175,133.5 people living in the city"), until he notices an actual pigeon on his high-rise windowsill. A red jet-pack strapped to his back, Doug detaches from his electronic tether to join the pigeons and human crowds outside ("Doug knew that skyscrapers had strong steel frames.... But he was amazed by the view from the top of one! He could see everything!"). Ponder-ing how a seesaw works, Doug meets a human boy who asks, "Want to play?" This "wasn't in any of his downloads," and Doug learns about unquantifiable fun. Yaccarino's (All the Way to America) streamline-smooth illustrations--bright blocks of color defined by swooping black lines--conjure a playful contemporary environment; without preaching, he comments smartly on children's screen time and the necessity of outdoor play and exploration. Ages 5-9. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 January

PreS-Gr 2--In a world in which human and robot families live together, Doug is a robot. As his parents leave for work, they plug him in so he can download lots of facts. One day, while learning about the big city, he decides to unplug from his program and experience it firsthand. With his red power pack allowing him to fly, he scatters a flock of pigeons and zooms up to the top of a skyscraper to view his surroundings. He explores the subway; walks among people on the crowded streets; and experiences other sights, sounds, and smells. He plays with a human boy in the park. Best of all, he now knows how to show his mother and father he loves them by greeting them with a big hug, just as his new friend did when he was reunited with his parents. Doug is an engaging, bright-yellow child with a black antenna sprouting from the top of his head. Computer-circuit spreads on muted backgrounds indicate his robotic nature while he is home. Yaccarino uses bright, solid colors and lots of white space for Doug's unplugged exploration scenes to illustrate his childlike exuberance as he finally takes part in the world around him. This charming title shows the importance of balance between virtual and real-life experiences.--Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT

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