- Todd's TV
The members of Todd's household are few in number: there's Todd, Todd's mom, Todd's dad—and Todd's TV. This last householder becomes increasingly significant as Todd's parents' lives get busier ("Todd loved his parents. But he had grown much closer to his TV"). The TV continues to step obligingly into the breach, taking Todd to his parent-teacher conference, driving him to school, and bonding with him so strongly that it begins to consider adopting him, leading to his stunned parents' efforts to win back their son. It's a story that has more to say about adults than kids, and it's unblinkingly, predictably didactic, yet it undercuts its own point by making the TV so personable. It's not actually clear, in fact, why Todd's human parents are a better bet than the tubular guardian, and Todd is portrayed as so happy with the TV that the book's claim that he missed his parents seems more diplomatic than truthful. Kids will giggle at the live-wire comic antics of the TV, though, and they'll grasp the humorously made point, perhaps even drawing inspiration from the book's example of a kid who ends up leading the adults in turning off the TV. The digitally created art has slyness and vigor in equal measure, with the figures gleefully cartooned with bold, black scrawls of outlines; eye-singeing orange is the only contrast to the shades of black and gray, but the liveliness of the style, the varied compositions, and the stream of entertaining speech balloons makes the palette intense rather than dull in its focus. Use this during TV Turnoff Week to talk about healthy habits and leisure time, and be prepared for kids to announce they'd rather be playing with the Wii anyway.