Toys in Space

Overview

A very silly (not-too-scary) story about losing a beloved toy.

That summer night, the toys were left outside. . . . For the very first time, the Wonderdoll, the helpful wind-up robot, the thoughtful green dinosaur, and the rest of their plucky gang lie in the grass, gazing up at the stars. But one star seems brighter than the rest. As it grows bigger and bigger, the toys realize it may not be a star at all! Soon they're venturing into the unknown, traveling by spaceship, where ...

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Overview

A very silly (not-too-scary) story about losing a beloved toy.

That summer night, the toys were left outside. . . . For the very first time, the Wonderdoll, the helpful wind-up robot, the thoughtful green dinosaur, and the rest of their plucky gang lie in the grass, gazing up at the stars. But one star seems brighter than the rest. As it grows bigger and bigger, the toys realize it may not be a star at all! Soon they're venturing into the unknown, traveling by spaceship, where they meet a lonely alien in need of help, and some friends. 

   From ever-inventive, award-winning author-illustrator Mini Grey comes a hilarious and heartfelt new adventure: a motley group of toys left outside in the garden become true friends and brave heroes--in space!

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Starred Review, School Library Journal, June 2013:
"Wonderfully offbeat."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, March 25, 2013:
“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.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
One summer night, seven doll-type toys are left outside for the first time to see the wonder of the night sky. They need a story for the long night, so WonderDoll tells them one, in which a spaceship comes down and beams them up into it. An odd-looking space creature called the Hoctopize shows them a picture of its equally odd-looking lost Cuddles. While searching for it, the Hoctopize has collected a thousand other lost toys from earth. The toys persuade it to send them back. They decide to have a party to cheer it up, since it still misses its Cuddles. After a great party, our toy friends must go home. They awake at morning still on the ground. WonderDoll assures them that the Hoctopize will find its Cuddles, "...in the last place it looks. Things always are." And indeed it is. There is a busy-ness to the page designs, a mixture of traditional lines of text with many speech balloons to carry the humorous narrative of these cartoon-y anthropomorphic toys. Lots of details also keep the tale appealing and the emotional content positive. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—In this wonderfully offbeat story-within-a-story, a little boy forgets his toys in the garden. Afraid of spending the night outside, the toys ask WonderDoll, leader of the bunch, to tell them a tale as a distraction. WonderDoll spins an exciting yarn about the Hoctopize, an alien who collects abandoned toys aboard his ship while searching for his own lost Cuddles. When the alien beams up WonderDoll and company, captivating adventures commence. The toys help the Hoctopize realize that his captives should be returned home and throw him a party to cheer him up, which lasts until dawn. Clever layouts of the cartoonish but highly expressive illustrations divide the action of WonderDoll's story from the toys' reactions. While WonderDoll's narrative occupies the larger part of the spreads, the toys' hilarious speech-balloon commentary is relegated to a smaller sidebar. This picture book is for the of Grey's previous quirky stories or other animate toy adventures such as the longer Emily Jenkins's Toys Go Out (Random, 2006) or Michael Rosen's Red Ted and the Lost Things (Candlewick, 2009).—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY
The New York Times - Pamela Paul
…a story about the power of storytelling and good old-fashioned ingenuity. Grey fills each page with her distinctive, bold chaos and clever, funny, ever-so-slightly off-color exuberance…
Publishers Weekly
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)
Kirkus Reviews
Keenly intelligent artwork teeters on the delicious borderline of scariness in a nighttime toy adventure. A boy runs off the page. "That summer night, for the first time, the toys were left outside." In the green grass lie seven small playthings. The sky darkens; stars emerge. The toys are quiet, then fretful and panicky--so WonderDoll tells a story. In it, a spaceship beams them all upward. How disconcerting! The alien "probably likes to eat pink felt!" speculates Pink Horse. "It might drool at the toys!" quivers Dinosaur. "Someone might get their stuffing probed!" worries Small Sheep. But the alien looks like a glove wearing pajamas--and it's sobbing. Hoctopize the alien grieves its own lost snuggle object. The spaceship holds thousands of toys that Hoctopize has collected from gardens all over Earth, seeking its missing Cuddles. Tiny labels catalogue the stolen creatures' origins ("Picnic Table, Front Lawn, 37 Spoon Drift, West Cutlery"). This tale has a heart of gold, while the art uses comic-book sensibility (horizontal and vertical panels; speech bubbles; ever-changing angles) and a savvy aesthetic to prevent any hint of saccharine. Does it matter whether the journey was WonderDoll's invention? Blending edginess and childhood reality (the uniqueness of one's own stuffed toy), this will satisfy many tastes. A preschool sibling to Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday (2007). (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307978158
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/14/2013
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.60 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

MINI GREY is the creator of the Boston Globe-Horn Book award-winning picture book Traction Man Is Here! as well as Traction Man Meets TurboDog and Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey. Collectively, the three Traction Man books have received 15 starred reviews. Her brilliant, quirky humor can also be seen in Three by the Sea, The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon, and Ginger Bear.
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