When the power goes out, kids who love screen time discover other ways to enjoy themselves in this illustrated children’s book.
The first question Isabelle and her little brother Joe have for their parents in the morning is “Can we watch?” Their parents try to teach good manners: the kids should say good morning first, ask more politely, and remember to brush their teeth, make the bed, and have breakfast before watching TV, and then they’re allowed only one show. One morning, just as Isabelle and Joe have again asked to watch TV, the power fails. The lights go off, the fridge stops humming, and the TV stays dark. “You’ll have to think of some other way to have fun,” says the kids’ mom. The family plays Old Maid; Isabelle and Joe ride their bikes; they have peanut-butter–and-jelly sandwiches for lunch; they do jigsaw puzzles; and after dinner, the family plays charades by candlelight. The power comes back on at bedtime after a fun day for everyone. The next morning, instead of asking to watch, Isabelle asks to play board games, and Joe agrees. The illustrations, flattish and awkwardly rendered, show action and emotion and depict a black-haired family with light brown skin, perhaps Latino, with both parents participating in child care and meal preparation. S.A. Dymond (Exonerated, 2016) and his daughter Shiloh Dymond, a first-grader co-authoring her debut book, tell a simple tale that could dip into moralizing but focuses instead on how much fun the family has when they entertain themselves. The book succeeds in making card games, bicycling, puzzles, and charades seem more engaging than TV shows. Some of these activities require parental participation, others don’t, making a good balance between supervision and independence. Screen-happy kids may not be convinced, of course, and the Dymonds load the deck by offering no scenarios of less enjoyable nonscreen play, like when kids bicker over or get bored by games. Still, the book is a good way to introduce ideas about politeness and nonscreen family entertainment.
A serviceable reminder of how to have fun the old-fashioned way.