Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Cybils Nominee: Toys Come Home
All three books feature a trio of toy friends (two plush, one rubber): StingRay, a bit of a bossy boots; Lumphy, a brave buffalo; and Plastic, a hyper bouncy red ball. Toys Come Home relates how the three toys become friends in six easy-to-read chapters. In this made-up world, toys can communicate with one another and can move, but only when people aren't around. In spite of this restriction, the trio of friends have plenty of adventures. After a few difficult nights in her new home, StingRay runs away, ending up in the basement. She also rescues Sheep (my favorite character--a very old pull toy whose life ambition is to chew grass), from a thorny rosebush. Lumphy bravely defends some plush mice from the antics of an all-too-real kitten, and Plastic posits existential questions--such as "Why are we here?'--that keep her friends up nights searching for answers.
This amazing book by the talented Emily Jenkins (whose Invisible Inkling is also up for a Cybil in the same category) is perfect for beginning readers and would make a wonderful read-aloud for younger children. I wager older elementary-school kids would appreciate it as well, that is, if they aren't too embarrassed to be caught reading a book about toys. Paul O. Zelinsky's full-page black-and-white illustrations are sprinkled throughout. The detailed, realistic renderings add immensely to the story's charm.
Toys Come Home
by Emily Jenkins
illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky
Schwartz & Wade Books, 144 pages
This book was nominated for the 2011 Cybils Awards in the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category. I am a first-round panelist in this category, and this review reflects my opinion only.