Picture Book Review and Giveaway: Unplugged – Ella Gets Her Family Back by Laura Pedersen and Penny Weber (Illustrations)


Unplugged –  Ella Gets Her Family Back by Laura Pedersen and Penny Weber

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers; First hardcover edition (October 10, 2012)
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 of 5 stars


In today’s wired world,
while many debate the ever-present nature of electronic devices, most
will agree that learning to manage this technology is an essential task.
With many parents confessing they are “addicted” to their smart phones,
this is not an easy task. Finding a balance for today’s families
requires thought, conversation, and some trial and error. Unplugged is a
timely and non-judgmental story that takes on a very big issue in a
friendly and humorous way. Ella, the youngest family member, let’s her
frustration with her family’s constant use of cell phones and computers
be known by confiscating their chargers. Bit by bit, the parents come to
see things from their daughter’s perspective and find a solution that
works for the family.

About the Author:

Laura Pedersen was born in
Buffalo, New York (one of “God’s frozen people”) in 1965, at the height
of The Folk Music Scare. (For details of misspent youth see essay at ‘Is
there a Nurse in the Church?’). After finishing high school in 1983 she
moved to Manhattan and began working on The American Stock Exchange, a
time when showing up combined with basic computation skills could be
parlayed into a career. She chronicled these years in her first book,
Play Money.

Having vowed to become anything but a journalist and
with no conception of what a semicolon does, Laura spent the better part
of the 1990s writing for The New York Times.

In 1994 President
Clinton honored her as one of Ten Outstanding Young Americans. She has
appeared on TV shows including Oprah, Good Morning America, Primetime
Live, and David Letterman.

In 2001, her first novel, Going Away
Party, won the Three Oaks Prize for Fiction and was published by
Storyline Press. Beginner’s Luck was published by Ballantine Books in
2003 and subsequently chosen for the Barnes & Noble “Discover Great
New Writers” program, Borders “Original Voices,” and as a featured
alternate for The Literary Guild.

Pedersen’s other novels include Last Call, Heart’s Desire, and The Big Shuffle.

lives in New York City, teaches reading and trades Yu-Gi-Oh! cards at
the Booker T. Washington Learning Center in East Harlem, and is a member
of the national literary association P.E.N. (poets, essayists and


About the Artist:

Penny Weber is a full time artist and illustrator from Long Island,
New York, where she’s lived all of her life. She works mostly in
acrylics, as well as collage and mixed media.

Penny attended classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York. 
Over the years she has worked in greeting cards and as a freelance
artist specializing in residential murals.
In 2007, Penny turned her attention to children’s book illustration
and quickly signed with Wendy Mays and Janice Onken to be represented by
WendyLynn & Company. Since then Penny has illustrated many books,
including  “One of Us” from Tilbury House Publishers, “Growing Up With a
Bucket Full of Happiness” published by Nelson Publishing and “Amazingly
Wonderful Things” published by Raven Tree Press.  Some other clients
include, McGraw Hill, Compass Publishing,  and Oxford University Press.
Penny has also worked for the educational market and various magazine and independent publishers.
Penny has a husband, three children and a cat, and she is heavily lobbying for a puppy!


My Thoughts:

I love it when books exceed my expectations. And this one did.  Surprisingly, the story didn’t come off as overly preachy. It
was well written and concise.  I love the idea of unplugging from
devices at mealtime so that the family can connect.  I also love the way Ella confronts her problems head on instead of waiting for someone else to do it for her. 

The illustrations were okay. I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t absolutely love them either.
I really didn’t have strong feelings about the artwork either way.


This giveaway is open to US mailing addresses only. You must be 18 or have your parent’s permission to enter. Winner must respond to my email within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.

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  • Reply
    April 17, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    This book sounds great and something lots of people should read right now! I think electronics are important, but it is even more important to be in the moment with the people around you. Can't wait to read this one! Thanks for sharing and for the giveaway.

    • Reply
      April 20, 2013 at 12:01 am

      It's so true. This book inspired me to instigate a no-electronics-at-the-dinnertable rule in our house. I've been really happy with the results.

  • Reply
    Vera Godley
    April 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    My son and his family "unplug" just about every weekend when they leave the City and go to their country home. Very wise indeed.

  • Reply
    Gina R
    April 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Oh my….I can't really think of many that couldn't use a read through of this book in today's world. Great find, great share…and great post! ^_^ Totally agree with the need for "unplugged" time….definitely count my reading time with a good old fashioned paper book among my favorite options. ^_^

    • Reply
      April 20, 2013 at 12:03 am

      I agree. It's rather frightening how much time goes to being plugged in. That's one of the reasons I love physical books so much. No screen involved.

  • Reply
    Renee C.
    April 20, 2013 at 5:37 am

    I LOVE the idea behind this book! I know a lot of families who should read this book (luckily we aren't one of them!) I don't even have a cell phone! lol Thanks for linking in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Tweeting…

    • Reply
      April 21, 2013 at 3:20 am

      My entire life is on my phone! But it's still really nice to unplug and go tech free for a few hours each day.

  • Reply
    Jaymie Shook
    April 26, 2013 at 1:58 am

    So smart! Unplugging is a big trend, actually. Thanks so much for bringing it to the Kid Lit Blog Hop! (P.S. I love the name Ella. Some day hopefully my blog changes to Snacks for Max and Ella!)

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