In a flavorless alternative to Matthew Cordell’s Hello! Hello! (2012), young Ella concocts a scheme to wean her distracted family from their digital devices.
Ella comes down the stairs expecting promised blueberry waffles for breakfast, some fancy braiding from older sister Maya and a brisk round of Hangman from brother Carlos. None of this is forthcoming, as Mom is on the cell and hurrying off to work, Maya is texting friends as she dashes out, and Carlos is absorbed in a video game. Even Dad, hunched over his laptop, is only good for a vague two-fingered wave. All right, then: After school that afternoon, Ella determinedly scours the house for chargers and power cords and proceeds to hold them hostage—explaining “I just want my family back. I want things to be like they were before you all got so plugged in.” In instant and unlikely capitulation, everyone smilingly agrees to breakfast together every morning from then on and regular “unplugged” time on weekends. Depicting a blandly smiling, biracial family in a comfortable suburban setting, Weber endows Ella with an appealingly shiny face and wildly curly hair, but other figures have frozen, sometimes off-kilter features.
A timely premise, but young readers who think that Ella’s strategy will work for them are in for an unpleasant surprise. (Picture book. 6-8)