Going Off the Grid: Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino
THIS IS DOUG. HE'S A ROBOT.
EVERY MORNING HIS PARENTS PLUG HIM IN TO FILL UP WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF FACTS.
In a way, Doug is living every kid's dream. Instead of sitting through thousands of hours of classroom time and slogging through acres of worksheets, textbooks, and tests, his parents simply plop him down in front of a mainframe and plug him in to an electronic umbilical and download all those facts straight into his head. Zap!
On the other hand, Doug feels tethered. His fond parents shuffle off every morning with their briefcases, and leave him home alone to be loaded up with facts and figures from a less-than-warm and cuddly motherboard! When he spots a pigeon on his windowsill, Doug is inspired to strap on a personal jetpack and fly out over the city with the urban bird as tour guide.
Doug knows all sorts of facts and figures about the town, but suddenly, as he alights atop the tallest skyscraper, he sees the city differently.
THE VIEW FROM THE TOP!
HE COULD SEE EVERYTHING!
Doug sees flowers growing out of the smallest cracks and feels the cool breeze blowing over him. Then he sees something that he never could have imagined.
...SOMETHING THAT WASN'T IN HIS DOWNLOADS!
Unplugged Doug sees a boy just his size having fun at a playground. Intrigued, he rockets down and joins him on a swing, speeding down the slide, and chasing around in a game of tag. Doug suddenly realizes that what his downloads had missed was fun!
Dan Yaccarino makes novel use of the evergreen "little runaway" theme in his latest, Doug Unplugged (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013). Doug, seeing his new friend running to hug his parents, decides that he wants to try this new move on his own parental units, and this robot runaway returns home in the best tradition of the premise, all the wiser for his new experiences. Doug is a roly poly robot, a sort of Elroy Jetson in a yellow space suit, antennae on his head, with a USB port for a belly button, who will quickly engage readers who sometimes yearn to unplug and soar outside in the real world. Yaccarino's specialized style of illustration is clever and comic, clearly appealing to youngsters, with its own little life lesson on board.. Says School Library Journal, "This charming title shows the importance of balance between virtual and real-life experiences."