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- ISBN-13: 9780439490290
- ISBN-10: 0439490294
- Publisher: Blue Sky Press (AZ)
- Publish Date: October 2008
- Page Count: 32
- Reading Level: Ages 4-8
- Dimensions: 11.24 x 8.9 x 0.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.94 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 53.
- Review Date: 2008-09-01
- Reviewer: Staff
Even the most unreasonable child will concede that Spencer, Shannon's young hero, has too much of a good thing. But what's a kid to do? The toys just keep coming: from well-wishers, from birthday party hosts, from fast food joints, even from school, where they're rewards “for having lots of Peace Person Points.” When his exasperated mother decides to cull the herd, Spencer's not-so-delicate negotiations give Shannon (No, David!) plenty of opportunity to display his flair for kid-friendly expressionism and domestic satire (one of the most annoying toys turns out to belong to dad). But what will ultimately keep kids glued to the page is the sheer breadth and depth of the overflowing inventory. Toys 'R' Spencer is a sight to behold, encompassing the tried-and-true (teddy bears, dump trucks), the spoof (a miniature Titanic) and the flat-out weird (a poultry monstrosity with Alfred E. Newman ears and a propeller head). Warning: do not administer to kids close to Christmas. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
A cure for toy overload
David Shannon has a knack for pairing some of the messier bits of childhood with wit and hilarity. A longtime fan favorite for his Caldecott Honor book, No, David! as well as the more recent How I Became a Pirate, Shannon is a gifted storyteller whose wide-eyed illustration style is immediately recognizable. Parents and kids alike see much of their own untidy household shenanigans through Shannon's comical depictions.
In Too Many Toys, our cluttered protagonist is Spencer, and minimalism just isn't his style. When it comes to playthings, you name it, he's got it. There's "an entire zoo of stuffed animals and a gigantic army of little action figures." And, of course, he has planes, trains, boats, musical instruments of every kind, robots, electronic toys, puzzles and even some quiet pull-toys. They blanket his floor and seep down the stairs. Not that this overload is Spencer's fault, mind you; everyone gives toys to Spencer. His mom and dad, sure, but there's also Grandma Bobo and Uncle Fred. Spencer receives toys for every occasion, from his birthday to the Fourth of July. That's a lot of toys.
After his parents trip over one too many Legos or step on one too many stray jacks (a painful experience we know all too well), Spencer's mom declares that the time has come to pare down. "That's a catastrophe!" Spencer wails, because he just cannot bear to part with a single item. As they begin the massive clean-up effort, the boy engages in some lawyerly negotiations, but finally agrees to put some of the toys in the giveaway box. When the exhausting transaction is complete, Spencer's mom prepares to bring the box to the car but gets a big surprise when she learns that there's one last thing Spencer simply cannot do without.
Shannon gives families an uproarious take on a common issue. While the story may or may not be helpful in your own ongoing toy roundup, it's clear that the book itself is a keeper.
Ellen Trachtenberg is the author of The Best Children's Literature: A Parent's Guide.
She just found a stuffed panda under her bed.