Sunday, January 01, 2012

Toys Come Home, by Emily Jenkins

Chronologically a prequel to the ever-delightful Toys Go Out, this installment ("being the early experiences of an intelligent stingray, a brave buffalo, and a brand-new someone called Plastic") gives us the back story to how Stingray, Lumphy, and Plastic came to live with the Girl, as well as how Sheep lost its ear, what caused Stingray to be afraid of the basement, and why we are all here. As before, a light comedic touch helps deliver wonderful stories about things which children worry about: fitting in, making new friends, and even a touching age-appropriate story of death and dealing with loss.

Emily Jenkins is one of the contemporary gems of children's literature. Whether writing for the 6-10 year old crowd here or the hilarious YA she writes for teens (under her special pseudonym) , she produces great books because she understands that children are not dumb and don't need to be talked down to. By taking the idea of talking toys and stripping out the commercialism and cynicism of Disney and Mattel, she captures the joy of play and sheer fun of being a child. For the target demographic, the result is a great story. For adults, there is the opportunity to experience the beauty of a finely crafted tale.

The original Toys Go Out is a classic in my mind, the type of book that I try to get into the hands of every six-year-old I know. Its sequel (Toy Dance Party) seemed very dark and less accessible, and I was less enthusiastic about supporting it. In this new book, Jenkins is back in high form and I heartily recommend it to the same crowd as before.

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