Dot: A Book Review by Claudia Haines
by Randi Zuckerberg
illustrated by Joe Berger
Harper Collins, 2013
Young Dot knows her electronic devices. She navigates tablets, desktops, laptops, and smartphones with ease. She’s not just tech-savvy, she is in fact obsessed with all things digital and spends her days researching, exploring, and communicating online. Eventually, Dot is seen on a double page spread laying on the floor with frazzled eyes. She’s had enough of her excessive digital media diet. Dot’s mom comes to the rescue and sends her outside to reconnect with her friends face to face and with outdoor play. The last page of the story reveals the balance of the virtual and real, with Dot using her phone to record her friends as they all enjoy the outdoors.
In creating Dot, her debut picture book, Randi Zuckerberg has done several things right. With the help of well-known illustrator Joe Berger, she portrays Dot as a tech-savvy girl contrary to the traditional images of men and boys often seen at the center of digital media use and creation. She models a world where a healthy media diet prevails and kids, at least, use media jointly. She chooses words that flow when read aloud and, with the help of the book’s designer, lays nicely amongst Berger’s whimsical illustrations created using both traditional media and Photoshop.
Dot falls short though in a way that may overshadow its value in the discussion about kids and media. Like many other picture books, Dot’s intended audience is 4-8 year olds. While many children this age use, or at least know about digital media, few of them tweet, tag, or share on their own as Dot does. In fact social media sites that employ these elements are for users 13 years old and up in accordance with COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Many, if not most, young children would not be able to manage these tasks or manage the social implications of their decisions without the help of an adult because of their developmental stages. This may ultimately confuse the book’s readers. Perhaps Dot’s real message is that kids need parental engagement and guidance.
Claudia Haines, Little eLit Curation Coordinator
Youth Services Librarian
Homer Public Library