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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Toys in Space, written and illustrated by Mini Grey. Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, 2013. $19.99 ages 5 and up

"And the toys realized it
was actually not a star at all -
it was a spaceship!

And the spaceship
opened up a bright
       hole and
     the toys
     up into it."

Toys left out in the yard? Have you heard a similar story? It seems an age-old dilemma...forgetful children, toys left to the whims of the elements and anyone who might venture into that yard and see them there. That is where any comparison I might make ends!

The seven toys left to their own devices in Mini Grey's latest tale are laying about on a darkening lawn, all looking upward luckily, and taking note of the night sky. What a wonder for them! They quietly take it all in stride, and through speech bubbles, allow readers a tiny glimpse at their very divergent personalities. There is a cowboy, a robot, a bunny, a horse, a wonder doll, a sheep and a dinosaur. They are resourceful, clever, thoughtful, helpful, brave, strong and truly a wonder! As the night closes in, and the lawn grows damp, they begin to worry for their safety and their patience at being left alone for too long.

It is the WonderDoll who steps up to the plate, and entertains them with a story. Her story is about themselves and includes an alien who discovers the toys and takes them to space with him, hoping that they will help him find 'Cuddles', his own much-.loved toy. WonderDoll names the alien the Hoctopize, and he describes his lost toy companion. When he shows them the Room of a Thousand Lost Toys, they realize that it is he who comes and takes any toys that are left alone outside, all in hopes of finding Cuddles. They talk him into returning the toys to their rightful places. Be sure you check out the address labels.

I love all of the opinions that emerge as WonderDoll tells her story...everybody has one! The tale changes course in the aftermath of these statements. As we have come to expect from this fine artist, the illustrations are full of wit and sparkle. Ms. Grey uses ever-changing perspectives to accompany this well told tale. They are busy pages that are sure to attract and hold audience attention throughout, and encourage a return to see what was missed the first time. There is much to enjoy in this warm, playful tale.

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