cover image Doug Unplugged

Doug Unplugged

Dan Yaccarino. Knopf, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-86643-2

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.)