A Story for Modern Times


When Ella tries to talk to her family, they are all too busy. Dad is working on his computer; Mom is on a phone call; Carlos is playing video game; and Maya is texting a friend. When Ella asks a question no one looks up, but they all say the same thing: tomorrow. Finally, she had enough. She collected the chargers for everyone's devices and put them in a basket. Everyone thought she was just jealous until Ella explained that she just wanted to have her family back. When she returned their cords, everyone went back to their device. Was anyone listening to Ella?

Parent Perspective:
A modern story, for sure! I like that both children and adults are the "guilty" parties. The story doesn't make an excuse for the parents who are using technology to work, only that like Carlos' video games and Maya's texting, it does interfere with being a family. While the story has an important message, odds are pretty good that siblings will start pointing fingers at each other. And that's okay if it gets real discussion going! Ella's solution is simple and attention getting without being over the top.

This is a perfect book for a "Parent Page" with tips and ideas for creating a home technology plan. Yes, I can search the web, but wouldn't it be nice to have a non-technology option right there since I'm reading the book? My other nit is the jump from one page where Ella says she wants her family back to the next one that starts "She returned everyone's games ..." It seems like there is an event missing in the middle. Her parents didn't acknowledge her statement, there was no "please give it back" or anything else. Just everyone with their nose back in their devices.

It is a good story with a well-played message. I just feel like it could have done a little more.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers - parents and kids - will see their family in this story. Like Ella, they may just be inspired to create change!

Content Awareness Factors:


Type of Book:
This is a picture book about modern family life and how a young girl tried to do something about getting everyone to talk to each other.
Educational Themes:

This is a great book to share with young children and preteens. It can be the catalyst for a family plan on House Rules related to Technology. Here is an article about creating Family Technology Rules [Link to Sunshine and Hurricanes blog].

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
Recommended Age To Read Together:
5 and Up
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy! This is a good story to have handy when devices start creeping into family time. It's a perfect book to read before a family meeting when you're going to come up with or devise a plan.

Title Unplugged: Ella Gets Her Family Back
Author Laura Pedersen
Publisher Tilbury House Publishers © 2012
Illustrators Penny Weber
ISBN 9780884483373
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.97
Genres Family, Emotions and Feelings, Contemporary Fiction