One of the joys of being a parent is reading beloved favorites from my childhood to my kids. But an equally joyful part of being a parent is discovering new favorites with them. I picked this book by Emily Jenkins off the new book shelf in our library and have been enjoying it with David as his special bedtime book. (Even though it’s technically David’s book, John listens in and he liked this one just as much as we did.) It’s a charming story of three toy friends who live with Girl. Sting-Ray is a fiesty, lovable know-it-all who arrives first at the house as a “Actual Day of Birth” gift (a title she clings to after being upset at having missed the birthday party). For awhile she is the newest toy and only has old Sheep and Bobby Dot, an obnoxious walrus to help her fit into her new home. However, when Bobby Dot meets a tragic end involving PUKE and a washing machine, Lumphy is brought into the home. Lumphy is a brave but gentle buffalo. The trio is complete at another birthday party when Plastic (a bouncy cheerful ball) arrives.
The story is simple enough and the “toys are alive” theme has certainly been done before plenty of times. What makes this book really stand out is that personalities of the toys. Sting-Ray’s voice reminded me of Clementine and I can’t imagine a more perfect imagination of the personality of a bouncy ball than Plastic. The book is full of funny details (like the towels in the linen closet who are slightly cliquish but can sing quite well) and a few times my boys were laughing out loud. Some more serious themes are dealt with as well. Sting-Ray realizes after Bobby Dot’s untimely death that she is partially happy because now she is given a more central role in the Girl’s life. This makes her feel guilty though and she is unsure what to think of her feelings. The illustrations are by Paul O. Zelinsky and are wonderfully detailed black and white drawings.
It turns out it’s the third in a series, but it comes first chronologically so it didn’t matter that we hadn’t read the other two first. I’ve already put the first in the series (Toys Go Out) on hold for future bedtime reading.
Be sure to stop by Hope is the Word for more great read-aloud suggestions!