Toys Come Home: Being the Early Experiences of an Intelligent Stingray, a Brave Buffalo, and a Brand-New Someone Called Plasticby Emily Jenkins, Paul Zelinsky
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Fans of acclaimed author Jenkins's and Caldecott Award—winner Zelinsky's Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party, as well as newcomers, will happily discover how Lumphy, StingRay, and Plastic came to live with the Girl. In six linked adventures, readers will also learn how the one-eared Sheep became one-eared; watch a cranky toy meet an unfortunate end; and best of all, learn why it's okay for someone you truly love to puke on you. Here is perhaps the most charming of three inimitably charming books destined to become classics.
"This charming book makes ideal bedtime reading." —The Wall Street Journal
“A sure hit for reading aloud and a classic in the making.” —The San Francisco Chronicle
"Jenkins deftly penetrates the natural anxieties of childhood—the phobias, the insecurities, the self-doubts—without playing them down." —The New York Times Book Review
“Has the nostalgic feel of a children’s book from an earlier time—part Winnie the Pooh, part Hitty and part bedtime book. A perfect selection for family read-alouds.” —Bookpage
“A blend of Toy Story and the stories of Jonny Gruelle and A.A. Milne. Young readers will enjoy exploring the warm, secret world of toys.” —Kirkus Reviews
“There’s a heavy fragrance of A.A. Milne to the narrative, not just in concept but in style and in details such as Plastic’s fondness for Pooh-like “hums,” but the book has a cuddly sturdiness all its own.” —The Bulletin
"A timeless story of adventure and friendship to treasure aloud or independently. Wholly satisfying, this may well leave readers expecting to see the Velveteen Rabbit peeking in the bedroom window and smiling approvingly." —Booklist, Starred
"An utterly delightful peek into the secret lives of toys. Here is a book bound to be a favorite with any child who has ever adored an inanimate object." —School Library Journal, Starred
“You’ll love Lumphy, and StingRay, and Plastic. You'll laugh over their choice of birthday presents and hold your breath over Plastic’s encounter with the Possible Shark. Most of all, you'll never forget these three. I know I won’t.” —Patricia Reilly Giff, two-time Newbery Honor-winning author
Read an Excerpt
In Which There Is Nowhere Nice to Sleep
StingRay has missed the birthday party.
She didn’t mean to. It was her first party, first party ever in the world to be invited to—and she missed it.
She didn’t even know she was missing it. She didn’t know anything about the party until now, when it is already over.
She can tell the people are disappointed in her.
Here is what happened:
StingRay woke up. She had never been awake before, but she could hear a scissor scoring the top of a cardboard box above her head. A box from a toy company. StingRay was squashed in that box, inside yet another box wrapped in shiny blue paper and tied with pink ribbon. She woke with a feeling that she’d been waiting, asleep, for a very long time.
She dreamed while she slept: the same dream over and over, about a wooden crate filled with other plush stingrays, packed with flippers touching flippers, tummies touching tails.
It was a mellow, cozy dream. The stingrays were still. The sounds were muffled.
A dream of something like a family, StingRay thinks.
Though she isn’t entirely sure what a family is.
The word just came to her and she used it, inside her head.
I am an intelligent stingray, she thinks to herself. To just have a word come to me and to know it’s the right word. In fact, now that I consider it, I know a lot of things! For instance,
I know that I’m a stingray,
and that a stingray is an extra-special kind of fish,
and that blue is the very best color anything can possibly be,
and that people are people,
and kids are baby people,
and that a kid would probably like to play with me someday.
I know all this stuff without being told. It’s practically like magic, the knowledge I have. I hope the rest of the world isn’t too jealous of me.
The scissor scores the cardboard, and the wrapping is ripped off. Now StingRay comes out of her crispy nest of tissue paper and is pulled into the bright light of what she knows, just knows somehow, is a kitchen. White cabinets. A jar of spoons and spatulas. Finger paintings stuck to the fridge with magnets.
A kid smiles down at her.
StingRay smiles back.
“She likes me!” says the Girl. “She smiled at me!”
“That’s a nice pretend.”
“I’m not pretending. She really did smile,” the Girl insists.
The mommy kisses the Girl on her head. “Sorry it didn’t come in time for your party. There was a shipping delay, Grandpa said when he called.”
(A party? thinks StingRay. Was there a party?)
“Still, today is your actual birthday,” the mommy goes on. “The day you were born. So it’s nice to have a present on this day as well, isn’t it?”
(I missed a party! thinks StingRay. A party I was supposed to go to!)
“Her name is StingRay,” the Girl announces.
“Oh?” The mommy crinkles her nose. “Don’t you want to call her a real name? Like Sophia or Samantha?”
“Or maybe an animal name, like you gave Bobby Dot?”
(Who is Bobby Dot? wonders StingRay.)
“You could call her Sweetie Pie,” continues the mommy. “Or Sugar Puff. How about Sugar Puff, hmm?”
“Just StingRay,” says the Girl. “I like StingRay.”
. . . . .
Upstairs, the Girl’s bedroom has a high bed with fluffy pillows and a soft patchwork quilt. Atop the windowsill is a collection of birthday cards from her friends. There are shelves filled with books and games, puzzles and art supplies. A large ash–blue rocking horse resides in the corner. On the bed lie a plump stuffed walrus and a woolly sheep on wheels.
The sheep looks old.
Under the bookcase, StingRay can see several sets of tiny, sparkling eyes. She can feel them watching her. She can feel the eyes of the walrus, the sheep, and the rocking horse, too. But none of them is moving.
StingRay doesn’t move, either.
The house feels big. Too big.
There don’t seem to be any other stingrays here with whom to nestle. She longs for the comfort of her cozy dream.
The Girl sets StingRay on a low shelf and trots out of the room. She has a playdate.
When the family bangs the front door behind them and the toys can hear the rumble of the car starting in the driveway, the walrus galumphs himself to the edge of the bed, then hurls himself off. He executes a spectacular flip with a twist—and lands right side up.
What People are saying about this
"Life's brutal realities are spotlighted with a gleaming authenticity...Character-driven episodes unfold in six fully realized chapters; Zelinsky's softly shaded pencil drawings showcase pivotal moments, revealing each individual idiosyncrasy...during this eventful year...This enjoyable trio deserves its rightful place away from the confines of any toy chest."
Starred Review, Booklist, September 15, 2011:
"The empathetic characters, gentle drama, and occasional, full-page, black-and-white drawings create a timeless story of adventure and friendship to treasure aloud or independently. Wholly satisfying, this may well leave readers expecting to see the Velveteen Rabbit peeking in the bedroom window and smiling approvingly."
Meet the Author
EMILY JENKINS is the author of Toys Go Out, an ALA Notable Book, and Toy Dance Party, a Kirkus Best Book of 2008. Other books include Sugar Would Not Eat It and the ALA Notable, Five Creatures. Visit her at emilyjenkins.com/kidsbooks.html.
PAUL O. ZELINSKY is one of the most acclaimed artists working today. His recent book, Dust Devil, was a New York Times Notable Book and an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Winner. In addition to illustrating the Toys books, he adapted and illustrated Rapunzel, recipient of the 1998 Caldecott Medal. He was awarded the Caldecott Honor for Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel by Rika Lesser, and Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs. Visit him at paulozelinsky.com.
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