A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.