cover image Teddy’s Favorite Toy

Teddy’s Favorite Toy

Christian Trimmer, illus. by Madeline Valentine. Atheneum, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8079-6

Teddy’s favorite toy is Bren-Da, Warrior Queen of Pacifica. She’s a pink-skinned Barbie-style doll, and Teddy’s play with her ranges from action-hero combat sequences (“She has the sickest fighting skills”) to extravagant fashion looks worthy of Project Runway or RuPaul’s Drag Race. (Teddy’s couture creations drape Bren-Da in mismatched socks, a bath pouf, and pretzels in a plastic baggie.) After Bren-Da’s leg falls off, Teddy’s mother mistakenly throws her away—and readers see the garbage truck take off with the trash. Teddy’s mother takes his anguish seriously. Valentine’s gouache and pencil drawings blend action and comedy as Teddy’s mother chases the truck with daring moves worthy of Bren-Da herself. “Yas, queen!” Teddy shouts in exultation. Trimmer’s smart, closely observed portrait celebrates a boy and a mother whose relationship grows out of mutual respect. Although it’s left unsaid, Teddy’s play resists gender stereotyping in that he’s allowed the freedom to play with whatever toys he likes in whatever way strikes his fancy—and the result is an imaginative free-for-all. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Feb.)