cover image Toys in Space

Toys in Space

Mini Grey. Knopf, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-307-97812-7

Seven toys, strewn in a grassy yard on a summer night, stare in awe at the starry sky. Among them are a superhero, robot, cowboy, and various animals, and voice balloons suggest their range of personalities. “ ‘We need someone to tell us a story!’ said the Blue Rabbit. The Wonder-Doll thought for a moment, and then she began.” The doll imagines their abduction by an alien who looks “rather like a glove.” The Hoctopize is on a mission to find “its Cuddles,” a beloved plaything, and the misplaced toys aid in the quest, hopeful that they themselves will not be forgotten long. The toys in the yard peek in from the margins of Grey’s comics-influenced pages, offering their opinionated commentary on the WonderDoll’s storytelling (the effect is akin to a particularly boisterous preschool story hour), even influencing the direction the tale takes. As in her Traction Man books, Grey plumbs the pathos and humor of carelessly treated playthings. Her double narratives hint at toys’ secret lives and the desire, after adventuring, to feel safe—impulses children will easily recognize in themselves. Ages 5–8. (May)