Oram (In the Attic) introduces a starry-eyed rag doll named Ruby Roo who appears on the doorstep of Rubbaduck, a retired bath toy with a lighthouse all to himself. "My child grew up," Ruby Roo announces. "Now what shall I do?" Rubbaduck, a round, trustworthy drake who grows his own leeks and pumpkins, seems just the sort to give Ruby Roo a new start. Despite first appearances, though, this is not a friendship story, but rather a fairy tale. Innocent-looking Ruby Roo eats Rubbaduck out of house and home. Worse yet, when he sends her to market to buy seeds for more vegetables, she comes home with a Magic Dancing Stick, a Magic Singing Bee and a Magic Fiddle. Like the magic beans Jack's mother tosses out the window, Ruby Roo's purchases are met with dismay. True to the beanstalk formula, however, the magic objects make the two toys a fortune in the end. In a stylistic departure from his Halibut Jackson, Lucas's airy ink-outlined, watercolor-tinted world has a Nutcracker feel, as if everything is made of cake and candy. Rubbaduck's lighthouse boasts crystal salt and pepper shakers, a pedestal table and duck ancestor portraits. In this world, anything seems possible. Readers will enjoy watching these two as they discover a happily-ever-after ending for Ruby Roo's enormous appetite. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Magic triumphs over conventional wisdom in this story about roommate issues in toy land. Rubbaduck leads an ordered existence as a retired tub toy until Ruby Roo the rag doll enters his life as a frustrating foil. She has an enormous appetite. When the two of them run out of food and money, they begin selling Rubbaduck's possessions in order to buy more seeds for the garden. Ruby instead makes some impulse buys: a dancing stick, a singing bee, and a magic fiddle. Her new roommate is upset, but seems helpless against her guileless nature, which consistently seeks solutions in a signature question, "What shall we do then?" Lucas draws Ruby with subtle body language that suggests she is not so much naive as visionary. She is not quite accountable for her reckless choices, but quickly takes credit for the happy end. It is a cleverly layered book about the value of magic in budding relationships. 2005 (orig. 2004), Boyds Mills Press, Ages 4 to 8.
PreS-Gr 2-Oram cleverly weaves together elements of familiar and beloved fairy tales to create a predictable and enjoyable story. When rag doll Ruby Roo moves in with Rubbaduck in the land of "old and lost toys," she quickly consumes everything in the industrious little guy's pantry. She has obviously spent much time with the Jacks (as in "Lazy" and "Beanstalk") because when the old duck gives her his best coat to take to market, she trades it to Mischievous Monkey for a Magic Dancing Stick. Rubbaduck is not too happy about this, yet he continues to give her valuables to sell that she exchanges for magical items. But before Rubbaduck can get too angry about the fiddle she has acquired, King Lion comes along, offering a bag of gold to anyone who can make the Queen (who hasn't smiled in years) beam. Rubbaduck and Ruby Roo successfully entertain her with their magical acquisitions, claim the bag of gold, and live happily ever after. Whimsical watercolor-and-pen illustrations add charm and humor to this tale. Children will guffaw at the impulsive Ruby Roo and take pleasure in the happy ending.-Be Astengo, Alachua County Library, Gainesville, FL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Addressed at least as much to adults as children, this folktale-style story pairs two abandoned toys with conflicting, but not incompatible, natures. Staid Rubbaduck-depicted as an antique ducky with a sailor cap and a serious mien-invites new arrival Ruby Roo, an outgrown rag doll, to stay in his cozy patchwork house for a while. When she proceeds to eat him out of house and home, he sighs, and sends her out to trade his best coat for garden seeds. Instead, she runs into Mischievous Monkey and comes home with a Magic Dancing Stick. Annoyed, Rubbaduck tries again with his best hat and then his best slippers, with similar results. Before the conflict can turn ugly, however, King Lion offers a bag of gold to anyone who can make the Queen laugh. Problems solved. The plot may not mean much to younger viewers, but they will enjoy poring over Lucas's simply drawn setting: a land of lost toys built from stray playing cards, chessmen, tin mechanicals, Erector Set pieces and similar bric-a-brac. (Picture book. 6-8)