If you are a frequent reader here, then you will know of my distaste for The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I am not alone in this opinion, though it feels like I am as list after list comes out with this book included. In a nutshell, what I dislike about Tulane is the endless litany of Horrible Things inflicted on this toy rabbit until not only the china bunny is broken (both figuratively and literally), but the reader is too. It’s a strong delivery that isn’t necessary for children.
If you want tension, try the middle chapter of Toys Go Out. While Plastic is attacked by a dog (which he thinks is a shark), Stingray is quietly sinking under the water (she thought she could float). For a kid, this level of scariness is enough. Will Plastic be okay? Can Stingray actually drown? Keep reading we need to know what happens!
Toys have traditionally had their adventures, even scary ones. Raggedy Ann was flown up on the tail of kite and it seemed she might be lost forever. Roo fell in the river and everyone worked to save him. The Velveteen Rabbit escaped the fire and hid. But only in Tulane will we see a toy thrown to the bottom of the sea, tossed in garbage, taken from the arms of a dying girl, and broken to pieces.
If you want the real best toy story of the year, look at Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic, by Emily Jenkins. It’s well written, heartwarming, and child-friendly.
I do have some mixed feelings about books about toys. While Raggedy Ann and Winnie-the-Pooh are among my favorites, I hold this type of book responsible for my total personalization of all objects with eyes. As a child, I believed in my heart of hearts that my toys were alive. I still kind of do. So, when I read a book like Toys Go Out, I worry that a whole new generation of kids will get fixated on the idea that their toys come to life.
Oh, but the book is so good. And maybe believing in the magic of toys isn’t so bad.
In the book we start with the toys in a mysterious circumstance. They are bumping around in a backpack heading for a mysterious place. Is it the zoo? The vet? No, it’s to school for show and tell as the little Girl’s favorite toys. We also learn what Plastic is, worry with Buffalo about being washed, travel to the beach, get taken up the the big bed, and celebrate a birthday. Very light, very sweet, very funny. And no bunnies were broken during the making of this book. Thank God.