Toys Go Out Book Poster Image

Toys Go Out

Playful, inventive stories starring oddball toys.

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness

The rare scary thought comes from the toys' overactive imaginations, including a reference to axe murderers.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that these six stories reveal the anxieties, fears, loves, and jealousies of toys. One fleeting reference to axe murderers as one of the scary things possibly lurking in the basement is the only thing that might be slightly objectionable.

What's the story?

Toys Go Out is a collection of six stories that reveal the small adventures of the same group of toys; the stories are not chronologically connected. In each story the toys learn about the world in which they live and their place in it. The adventures begin when three of them are trapped in a dark, damp backpack and, because they don't understand where they are going, imagine the worst. Then Plastic, the red bouncy ball, has an identity crisis until Tuk Tuk the towel sets her straight. Later, Lumphy conquers his fear of the washing machine, and both StingRay and Lumphy learn an important lesson about jealousy. In the end, they all celebrate their love for one another and the little girl at a very special birthday party.

Is it any good?


The lessons of this early chapter-reader are gentle and ring true. These stories are not about how the heroic toys save the little girl or cure evil in the rest of the world; they are stories about the irrational fears, small jealousies, and petty competitions with which the toys struggle in their own private world as they learn to trust, understand, and depend on one another. Their struggles are the kind any kid will understand, especially as they're presented with all the confusions kids have and told in language kids use. While the language of the stories is both poetic and humorous, it is also that of the everyday kid-world. The conversations sound like those you would hear if you were listening in on a group of kids playing. Black-and-white sketches by Caldecott medalist Paul Zelinsky add to the fun of each chapter.

Younger kids may feel confused in the beginning stories about who is who. It may have helped if author Emily Jenkins had added an introductory chapter or a character list before starting off on the adventures. On the other hand, perhaps she invited the mystery and confusion as integral to the world of toys. Unfounded fears and misinterpretation of information are balanced with humor, love, and support that creates a world kids will understand and enjoy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the various fears and jealousies the toys face, and the solutions they find. Why, for example, did the buffalo want so badly to sleep on the bed? Why wasn't it as wonderful as he thought it would be?

Book details

Author:Emily Jenkins
Illustrator:Paul O. Zelinsky
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Schwartz & Wade
Publication date:September 12, 2006
Number of pages:128
Publisher's recommended age(s):7 - 11

This review of Toys Go Out was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byelainem April 9, 2008

Charlotte's Web with toys instead of farm animals!

This is the most charming book I have read in a very long time. The characters reveal themselves quickly as "people" to know and discuss and, sometimes, emulate. I am a school librarian and I am recommending this book to all teachers and will be reading it aloud to all my third graders.
Adult Written byspot April 9, 2008

Adorable and Funny for the whole family

Our first-grade level reader son read this book out loud to Mom and Dad. It was a challenge for him, but he understood all the humor and was engaged for the whole story. He couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. He loved the part about 'submarine' messages - exactly something he would say! As adults we found the story funny and engaging as well.
Parent of a 8 year old Written bywaterlilies May 31, 2011

Family Favorite

A hilarious, heartwarming story. This is an all-time favorite of my 8-year-old's and mine. Honestly, the first time we picked it up we didn't love it and only got through the first chapter. So glad we gave it another shot, though. We've since listened to it on audio book & reread it several times. We've even given copies away as gifts. Love it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models