Teddy's Favorite Toy

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Teddy's Favorite Toy Book Poster Image
Boy loves doll in story with humor and heart.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Types of toys, ways to play with toys, ways to fix toys. Creative ways to name battle moves.

Positive Messages

Boys can like dolls. Kids can creatively play with toys in all sorts of imaginative and gender-bending ways. When something goes wrong, kids can try different ways to fix it. Women are strong, with fierce moves. Moms go the extra mile to help their kids. Implicit message of inclusion about multiracial families.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Teddy's a boy who likes all kinds of toys, including dolls. He's wildly creatively, concocting fun scenarios for the doll and other toys. He's resourceful when trying to fix the doll's broken leg. He's brown-skinned, his mom's white, and they have a close, fun relationship. The mom works creatively as an illustrator. The mom goes into supermom mode, with some super-fun moves, when she rescues the doll from a garbage truck.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Teddy's Favorite Toy by Christian Trimmer, illustrated by Madeline Valentine, takes the boy-likes-doll idea to fun and fresh places. Teddy likes lots of toys, but the doll is his favorite and he plays with her in inventive ways. Sure, the two have tea parties, and he dresses her up in outlandish costumes of his own creation. But the doll also "has the sickest fighting skills" and wages epic battles. When her leg falls off in a fierce fight, and she accidently gets thrown in the trash, Teddy's mom proves to have some impressively fierce moves herself, a tribute that everyday supermoms everywhere can appreciate. Teddy's family is a multiracial family -- he's brown skinned and his mom's white.

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What's the story?

TEDDY'S FAVORITE TOY is a doll, "Bren-Da, Warrior Queen of Pacifica," which he puts to many uses. Sometime he plays with her in traditional ways: tea parties. Other times, she fights the rest of his toys in "epic battles." In the heat of battle, a leg comes off and Teddy tries to fix it in a variety of creative ways (one involving bubble gum). In desperation, he wraps the doll in tape and leaves her on his bed. But when Mom passes by and sees the mess, she dumps it all into the garbage can, and it's taken off by the garbage truck. In the nick of time, Teddy sees that Bren-Da's missing, and Mom springs to action, rivaling Bren-Da with her own fierce moves as she chases after the truck to rescue the doll.

Is it any good?

This book takes the boy-likes-doll story to new, creative heights as Teddy's doll gets incorporated into imaginative play and wages epic battles. In Teddy's Favorite Toy, creativity bubbles up on every page. When the doll's leg breaks off, Teddy self-reliantly tries various ways of fixing it -- cutting off locks of his troll doll to tie it back on, sticking it on with bubble gum, and finally, taping the whole mess together. Throughout, author Christian Trimmer makes Teddy very recognizably "kid."

As befits a book about a superhero doll and a mom with fierce moves, the text is kicky. Trimmer builds suspense by letting the art deliver the punchlines. He tells us that something "truly awful" is about to happen, and when we see it, he writes simply, "This," letting illustrator Madeline Valentine provide the harrowing detail. The mom works at home at a drafting table -- as an illustrator, ha ha! And the sequence in which Teddy dresses Bren-Da in his own fashion creations includes a hilarious see-through sandwich bag with pretzels. As Teddy shouts when his mom saves the day, "Yas, queen!"

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the doll in Teddy's Favorite Toy. What are some of the different ways Teddy plays with Bren-Da? How does he play with his doll and other toys together? What are some of his fun ideas?

  • Have you ever broken a toy? Were you able to fix it? Have you lost a toy? Did you find it?

  • What do we learn about Teddy and his mom from the words to the story? Do we learn different things about them from the pictures?

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