Babe in Toyland

Babe in Toyland

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by Eugenie Seifer Olson

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Dive into the sometimes sexy, sometimes sinister, always hilarious world of love and action figures in the toy industry with Eugenie Seifer, the quirky, smart new author for Avon Trade.

Toby Morris is 25 and ready for some excitement. Her job at a large toy company is long on stuffed animals, radio–controlled racers, and activity sets, but short


Dive into the sometimes sexy, sometimes sinister, always hilarious world of love and action figures in the toy industry with Eugenie Seifer, the quirky, smart new author for Avon Trade.

Toby Morris is 25 and ready for some excitement. Her job at a large toy company is long on stuffed animals, radio–controlled racers, and activity sets, but short on real satisfaction. When her former art school buddy lands a job at a local TV station and Toby tunes into the weekend news, she soon finds all the excitement she'd ever asked for––through an infatuation with a young, handsome weatherman.

As she slowly becomes obsessed with Doppler radar, storm trajectories, and cloud cover, Toby begins to send him anonymous poems ("if you like these poems/and the feelings I speak/please wear your green tie/on Thursday next week) and letters begin flying. It seems as though Toby has almost found her true love, until a botched prank leaves Toby wondering how she'll ever weather the storm. But what's coming up for Toby is something no weekend weatherman could ever predict.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.75(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Babe in Toyland

By Olson, Eugenie Seifer

Avon Books

ISBN: 0060570563

Chapter One

"What do you think of this?" Kerrin says suddenly, turning away from the counter to face me. Her face is a patchwork quilt of overpriced cosmetics, with stripes of green and blue on her eyelids and blotchy pinks on her cheeks.

"Hmm?" I look up dewy eyed from my reverie. I've strayed from the circus of colors at the makeup counter to the bath and body products, where I've been fingering the beautiful bottles and inhaling the citrusy smells of the lotion of the moment. My obsession with bath products borders on the perverse, and my bathroom, a clutter of austere packaging and empty marketing promises, proves it.

We are in John Wanamaker's in Center City, with its hushed department-store atmosphere, high vaulted ceilings, and delicate railings. Wanamaker's has taken quite a hit in recent years, with Philadelphians instead preferring to go to the colorless local malls in the suburban spread. The sales help stands listlessly on the floors, seemingly unaware of the few patrons who still shop here. I do not own many elegant things, but I have a breathtaking box of lace hankies given to me by my great-grandmother when I was about four years old. They were purchased here, and I like to imagine the hustle and bustle of the place back then, before people felt it was their divine right to shop in flip-flops and torn sweatpants. To this day, the hankies sit in their signature Wanamaker's box in my bureau drawer, a reminder of a time when shopping was glamorous.

It's nearing the end of our lunch break -- or Kerrin's lunch break, to be more accurate. As a result of a new touchy-feely employee program at the toy company where I work, we've been given half-days on Fridays during the summer months. With as much excitement as the CEO could muster, he told us the new policy would allow us to have summertime fun and develop outside interests. So far, it has afforded me more time to pursue lofty and mind-broadening goals, such as renting movies that feature the vapid beauty of Keanu Reeves, and conducting a personal taste test of Philadelphia's best cheesesteaks with my roommate Michael. If today's makeup shopping goes well for Kerrin, I will add this to my list of potential Friday afternoon outings. Kerrin, on the other hand, must get back to work by one-thirty, to her windowless, suffocating office at University of Pennsylvania Hospital.

"Well?" asks the saleswoman, arching her overplucked eyebrows at Kerrin. Her lab coat and discreet enamel pin on its collar contrast vividly with her red talons, heavy foundation, and shimmery lipstick. "This new summer collection seems perfectly suited to your needs," she says with conviction, and I make a mental note to ask Kerrin exactly what are the cosmetics needs of a person who writes grants for cancer research.

"Ummm . . . that one," Kerrin says, jabbing a fingertip at an eyeliner pencil. She juts her chin out and tilts her head to one side, Kerrin-speak for "I've made up my mind." For just a moment, a hint of stress breaks through the makeup mask of the saleswoman. "Are you sure that's all you'll be needing? Maybe you'd like me to show you how to blend the eyeshadow colors again?"

She is playing a losing game. Kerrin hasn't come here to abuse her or waste her time; she genuinely wants to sample everything but won't be strong-armed into buying anything more than she needs. Try to swindle Kerrin, and you'll wish you had stayed home exfoliating today, I silently say to the hapless saleswoman.

"Can you believe that, Toby?" Kerrin says moments later as we walk toward her car on 12th Street. She takes a long drag on her cigarette and lets the smoke out through clenched teeth. "Thinking I'm going to buy all that crap. I told her I only needed one thing."

"Yes, but it's her job to try and get you to buy more stuff. Plus, you looked like you were really going for it, letting her keep putting different colors on you. You looked like Ziggy Stardust or something," I say, tightly clutching my bag of matching orange-scented bath gel and shampoo in my left hand.

"What did you buy?" she asks, rooting in her bag for her keys. I've always been amazed at friends who can walk and hunt for things in their purses at the same time. My one such experiment ended up with my checkbook falling down an open manhole, and I've been fearful ever since.

"Oh, just some orange bath gel and shampoo. I really can't even afford it, I don't know what I was thinking," I rationalize.

"You're weird with that stuff. You need some sensuality in your life. Remember pleasures of the flesh, Toby?" she grins. "It's going to be a long, hot summer. I think you should have some fun. And not the kind of fun that comes from" -- she yanks the bag from my hand and squints at the label on the shampoo -- "some cosmetic company on Long Island. I'll call you this weekend."

And with that, she gets into her car and lurches into traffic, nearly colliding with a temporary barrier routing cars around City Hall. How like Kerrin to fight City Hall on her lunch hour.

"Hello?" I call out as I open the front door. "Michael, are you here?"

I plop down on the sofa, thoroughly deflated from the bus ride from Center City. Surely that's not what the CEO of Toyland had in mind when he told us to enjoy our Friday afternoons, I had been thinking only five minutes earlier while watching the bus driver argue with a passenger about the live eel he was attempting to transport in a flimsy supermarket shopping bag ...


Excerpted from Babe in Toyland by Olson, Eugenie Seifer Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author

Eugénie Olson lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband, David, their two cats, Loki and Kiddun, and their fish, Lulu. Her interests include belly dancing, low rider and hot rod cars, and makeup. This is her third book.

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Babe in Toyland 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book did not hold my interest. I normally finish a good book in a few days, but this one took me over 2 weeks to read! It was very slow moving and was not very interesting at all. I had to force myself to read it it's not a book that I looked forward to finishing to find out what happened.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GirlieMac More than 1 year ago
No offense to the book, but it was very cookie-cutter. As soon as Toby describes her living arrangement (chapter 2-ish) you can predict the ending. Toby is a single woman who writes directions for a toy company. She lives platonically with a musician Michael, and sees a new weatherman on TV that she falls in love with and sends poetry. Although predictable, this was a sweet book and I liked the expansion of Toby's interests when she becomes a volunteer at CHOP in the oncology ward.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
In Philadelphia, graphic instruction artist Toby Morris works at the Toyland Toy Company and shares an abode with her platonic roommate Michael. A college friend Jenna informs Toby that she has a job as news graphics at WPHX. A jealous Toby watches the news to see how well Jenna performed in her behind the scenes job. However, Toby forgets about Jenna when she see weatherman J.P. Cody. She never has had a crush before, but now she is very attracted to J.P. Toby starts writing silly poems and shocks herself by mailing them to her heartthrob............................. A drunken Toby informs Michael she sent poems to J.P and sends a new missive to J.P asking him to wear his blue check tie if he likes her poems. J.P. replies asking Toby for a picture. She responds immediately. He next asks her for information about herself and she answers promptly again. J.P. asks to meet with Toby, who is feeling ecstatic while Michael is upset at Toby................... BABES IN TOYLAND contain a strong lead character who serves as the center of the tale and a solid support cast that propels the story line forward through their actions and reactions to the heroine. The main plot is a chick lit theme, but the story line contains several other subplots widen the scope into a relationship drama yet smoothly return to the main theme as everything works through Toby, the focal point of the novel. Though a final relationship comes out of nowhere, fans will enjoy Eugenie Seifer Olson¿s Philadelphia joyride.......................... Harriet Klausner