The Marvelous Toy

Tom Paxton, Author, Elizabeth Sayles, Illustrator HarperCollins Publishers $16 (1p) ISBN 978-0-688-13879-0
An imagination teaser that has beguiled families since it was introduced in 1961, folksinger Paxton's (Going to the Zoo) eponymous song makes an uneasy transition to the picture-book medium. The appeal of the lyrics lies largely in their inherent mystery--""It went ZIP when it moved/ And BOP when it stopped/ And WHIRR when it stood still./ I never knew just what it was/ And I guess I never will."" Committing the song to print, therefore, and more specifically, to illustration, is somewhat akin to pinning down a butterfly in a display case, even if the image provided by the illustrator is of an unidentifiable thingamajig. Though the song lends itself to a read-aloud very nicely, and though Sayles's soft, warmly lit pastel illustrations certainly hint at the mystery (the toy scooting under a chair in one scene, only its tail visible, for instance), this visualized version takes a lot of the fun out of it. Musical notation is included on the endpapers. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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