I have become an evangelist. I have firmly decided that I know what is best for families who love the read-aloud, and so I'm doing my duty to spread the word.
What is best is that you absolutely must start off by reading Emily Jenkins Toys Go Out (briefly mentioned in that post). Then read Toy Dance Party. You could go ahead and buy them now (as I did after checking out Toy Dance Party from the library and finding out that the both hardcovers are under $7 at amazon to make way for the paperbacks). These are books that are staying in my permanent collection. You know -- books to read again and again and to save to read to the grandchildren.
These books are about 150 pages, with large-print text filling the page, and about one (really beautiful pencil-type) drawing per chapter. They are marked for grades one to three, and I think that's about right, but I can say with certainty that my Kindergarten loved it, and appreciated it in its fullness, and that my 6th grader was delighted to revisit the toys which she was familiar with from a school-wide read of Toys Go Out.
When I read it with her for the school project two years ago, I was delighted with it. When I read it to Kyle this fall, I was reminded of my love for this funny and heart-warming story.
In Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic, we meet the toys. The subtitle says it all. Each toy has a personality (one which children will readily identify in themselves or a family member), and the toys are perfectly innocently confused and assured all at once.
I think that it was reading the second book featuring these characters that spurred on my need to insist that others discover these books too. Even though I wrote about the fact that series are often an easy read, I think that with a second book, we are immediately drawn into the story and deeper into the characters (I'm experiencing this same epiphany with The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, which Amanda and I WILL finish this week). Actually, the similarities don't end there. They both feature humor that is ironic and true. They feature characters who try to do their best. Characters who are brave, true, fearful, and optimistic. These qualities do not come across as stereotype, but as characters drawn essentially true to themselves and their nature.
I did love Toy Dance Party more, but I don't know if it's because it's a better story, or because it's a deeper layer (subtitled: Being the Further Adventures of a Bossyboots Stingray, a Courageous Buffalo, and a Hopeful Round Someone called Plastic). But you must start with Toys Go Out.
Did I convince you yet?
Find out what other books that kids enjoyed (and their enthusiastic parents are pushing) over at 5 Minutes for Books Kids' Picks carnival.