Toys in Space

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Toys in Space Book Poster Image
Quirky tale-within-a-tale overflows with fun details.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Shows lots of different toys kids can identify. Introduces the idea of space travel.

Positive Messages
Despite their alarm at having been scooped up by an alien, the toys empathize with the sad alien and want to help him. Their overnight adventures demonstrate how good company can help when you're feeling sad or afraid.
 
Positive Role Models & Representations
The WonderDoll tries to comfort her anxious friends. She has kind words for each of them, and adapts her story to suit their interests and worries. In the tale, the characters make sure the alien does the right thing and returns the toys he's taken.
 
Violence & Scariness
The toys are left alone in the dark -- which is both thrilling and unsettling. In the WonderDoll's story, the toys are taken by an alien searching for his own lost toy, but they're returned to Earth -- along with a thousand other lost toys. 
 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Toys in Space is a fantasy about what happens when toys are left on their own at night. One doll -- a tough cowboy -- uses insulting language ("stupid," "ninny") toward his compatriots with no repercussions. There's also talk of being "probed" by aliens. 
 

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What's the story?

Forgotten by their young owner, seven toys spend their first night outside. The starry sky is a revelation that leaves them speechless ... but then the fretting and fussing begins. The WonderDoll spins a story to pass the time: In her tale, the seven toys are abducted by an alien searching for his own lost toy. The toys persuade the alien to return all the toys he's collected in his search, then throw a party to cheer up the sad creature. Then the toys return to Earth themselves, leaving the alien to finally find his beloved Cuddles, in the last place he looked. By the time her story is finished, dawn has brought the promise that the toys will soon be found by their owner.

Is it any good?

TOYS IN SPACE frames a story within another story, and blurs the lines just enough to make you wonder what really happened. The WonderDoll's story zigs and zags, changing course with each interruption from her eager friends. This will feel oh so familiar to anyone who's made up stories on the fly for energetic listeners! It makes some convenient leaps: It doesn't explain how the toys persudae the alien to return the Lost Toys, and the group of friends doesn't consider helping him find his toy. 
 
Author/illustrator Mini Grey's comic-style panels and varying typeface treatments make for an energetic presentation. From some kids -- especially beginning readers -- the cluttered pages might be too busy. But for others, the engaging sketches offer fun details, like the address labels secured to the Lost Toys and the clues to where Cuddles will be found.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about improvising stories. Look for the clues in the pictures that help fuel the WonderDoll's tale.
  • Encourage your kid to make up a story to share. Take turns making up stories for each other using your surroundings -- and each other -- for inspiration.
  • Talk about what you'd do if you found a lost toy.

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For kids who love Picture books and fantasy

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