Modern-day life tethered to a cellphone prevents caregivers from enjoying the park’s natural beauty, observing the unexpected, and reacting to their children’s discoveries.
It is a clear, bright spring day, and two children are enjoying the wonder of it all. Dogs run amok and upset their walker as they chase squirrels; flowers drop from a local vendor’s cart; there’s a newly hatched baby bird, a fluttering butterfly. A little boy wants his father to experience it all with him, but Dad is too busy, never looks up, buried in his screen. “You’re missing it!” shouts the boy as his frustration grows over his father’s unresponsiveness. But a little girl whose mother is equally absorbed with her phone begins a conversation, and boy and girl share the park’s happenings. And then—an escaped rhino from the zoo galumphs through, knocking Dad’s phone from his hand and forcing a sudden shocked awareness that results in a loving hug between father and son. “ ‘See, Dad?’ ‘Oh, yes! I do. I see.’ ” The humorous cartoon artwork enfolds the sparse narrative in a vibrant atmosphere, completing a message that may be more pertinent for the adult sharing the story than a child reader. The protagonist presents white, and his new friend is a girl of color with afro-puff pigtails. Distressingly, her mother, a woman of color, never looks up, rhino or no rhino.
A timely comment on technology’s drawbacks in today’s society. (Picture book. 4-7)