The Real Toy Story: Inside the Ruthless Battle for America's Youngest Consumers

Eric Clark, Author . Free Press $26 (259p) ISBN 978-0-74-324765-8

London journalist Clark begins by invoking the magic of playtime, but the bulk of the book is a more prosaic snapshot of today's toy industry—a straightforward look at struggles and obstacles ranging from store closings and kids' ever-shorter attention spans to the dominance of Wal-Mart and China. Though the book is far from comprehensive—Clark scarcely mentions computer and video games and pretty much ignores the world outside the U.S. and England—almost any reader will find delight in his lively anecdotes, quotes and life stories from inventors, shop owners and toy-company executives. The subtitle's hint of darkness is here, too: Clark notes the "contrast between the industry's hard, often pitiless pragmatism and the cozy, lovable image of what it's selling." He sets the brutal closing chapter, "Santa's Sweatshop," in China's Pearl River Delta, the "workshop of the world." But this is no Fast Food Nation –style polemic intended to rouse readers to action; when the author's prose edges into commentary, he's more wistful than outraged. Too many of today's toys, he laments, "preach sex and violence" and are too closely linked to TV and film spinoffs. Anyone raised on Erector sets and Legos will relate. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/13/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Paperback - 331 pages - 978-0-552-77406-2
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-4516-4613-9
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4464-2280-9
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-7432-9889-6
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