cover image Spy Toys

Spy Toys

Mark Powers, illus. by Tim Wesson. Bloomsbury, $13.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-68119-665-7

Comically inept characters, screwball plotting, and snarky dialogue fuel this adventure from newcomer Powers. At the Snaztacular Ultrafun toy factory, Dan (a teddy bear with a faulty snuggle chip that causes him to hug with kid-crushing strength) and Arabella (a rag doll whose crossed wires have left her “with the attitude of a bad-tempered rattlesnake”) escape from the reject pile. Along with Flax, a police robot disguised as a rabbit, they are recruited as “Spy Toys” by the Department of Secret Affairs, an organization that prevents “horrible things from happening.” Their assignment: protect a senator’s son from being kidnapped by Rusty Flumptrunk, a cereal mascot turned criminal. Wesson’s high-energy cartoons make the most of the toys-gone-wild premise (in one funny sequence, Dan, Arabella, and Flax test their skills against a trio of out-of-control toddlers), and the unlikely allies’ near-constant bickering keeps the pace quick and the laughs coming. It’s an entertaining riff on the idea that supposed faults can actually be assets, as well as the rewards of finding friends in surprising places. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)