Though adored by kids and parents alike, somehow Emily Jenkins’ series of books about the secret lives of some very special toys never quite made it into my reading basket until this year, with the release of Toys Come Home, the prequel to Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party.
Toys Come Home tells the story of how Stingray, a (highly intelligent) blue plush marine animal; Lumphy, a valiant stuffed buffalo; and Plastic, a round red ball came to live together at the Girl’s house. Of the three, Stingray arrives first, and in the beginning she is friendless. She doesn’t quite fit in with any of the other toys, and hasn’t yet made her way deep into the Girl’s heart. But this is a story of friendship, after all, and Stingray begins to find her way when, in one of the most moving scenes I’ve read in a while, she and the Girl find Lumphy in a store among hundreds of other toys. The two get along famously, but encounter a problem when Plastic arrives. Plastic brings with her a buoyant curiosity about the world, which eventually leads her to ask some deep questions which prove very distressing to the three. But again, this is a story of friendship, which is ultimately the answer to the question for Stingray, Lumphy, and Plastic.
This is a lovely story told with wit and tenderness. It would make a beautiful family read aloud, being one of those books that can be understood on a number of levels and will be appreciated by young and old alike. It is decorated with soft pencil drawings by Paul O. Zelinsky (I especially appreciated his sympathetic rendition of Bobby Dot, an insufferable stuffed walrus, covered in the Girl’s puke). As far as which book to read first – this from the Author’s Note: “The events in Toys Come Home occur before the events in Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party, but this book was written last. I suspect the stories are best read in the order they were written, rather than chronologically, but I leave the choice to the readers.” As for me, I think I’ll now read Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party, then go back and read Toys Come Home once more. Recommended for all ages.
Posted by: Parry