CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 12. . . .November 19, 2010.
No TV? No Fair! (Streetlights).
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2010.
118 pp., pbk., $8.95.
Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.
Review by Andrea Galbraith.
"So what do you say? You watch your show, I play a bit more of my game, and we both agree not to say anything to Mom and Dad."
Chloe wasn't sure. Part of her knew that she shouldn't break the rule, even if her mom and dad would never find out. That part of her wanted to say "no way!" to Mark and stomp out of the room. But the other part of her really, really wanted to see the first episode ever of My Two Crazy Lives.
"It will only be this one time," Mark said, as if reading her mind. "Then we'll go back to keeping the rule for the rest of the month."
Chloe didn't say anything for a moment. She was thinking. Her parents would never know she had watched her show if she and Mark didn't tell. And was it really a lie if you just didn't say? And what if they never showed the first episode of My Two Crazy Lives on TV ever again...
Ten-year-old Chloe Lambert is horrified when her mother announces that the TV and computer are being turned off for a whole month. She and her older brother, Mark, are furious about the so-called experiment and especially that they weren't part of the decision. Chloe is so mad that she sees red and eventually starts drawing the feelings she's having. As she gets used to the new rule, she continues to rekindle her interest in art and also helps her neighbour, Mr. Z., in his garden more often. Chloe, enthusiastic in all her passions, begins to believe that all technology is plain bad and vows to swear off using any machines. But when Mr. Z. has to go to the hospital, Chloe start to think in less rigid ways about the pros and cons of technology.
Chloe is a likable character, and her good humour, mood swings, and enthusiasms are presented in a realistic and sympathetic way. The dynamics of the family ring true, and complications appear reliably throughout to move the story forward. However, it is always evident that this is a book with a message. TV and Internet are not portrayed as evil, but as time wasters and easily overused. Even young children will recognize that they are being taught a lesson.
Once the gadgets are unplugged, the alternatives that the Lamberts turn to are a little obvious, especially the evenings playing charades or a family day at the park. The freshest part of the story is when Chloe goes overboard and wants to stop using all machines. This is both in character as well as a more subtle way of introducing the idea that most things are not all good or all bad.
As a teaching aid for debating the role of technology in our lives, No TV? No Fair! is a useful book for young children. It is not recommended as a standalone recreational read.
Recommended with reservations.
Andrea Galbraith is a writer, librarian and parent. She lives in Vancouver, BC.
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