But the question is, do they have much fun?
Night after night Bunting the old toy cat calls the register, counts the toys, makes them do their exercises and checks for signs of wear and tear before lecturing his fellow exhibits on the museum’s history.
But toys are made for playing, for having fun!
And so one night Bunting’s audience breaks rank. The toys run away, enticing poor old perplexed Bunting into a game of Hot or Cold, which despite its perils, ends up being rather a pleasure. And although it seems likely that Bunting will never manage to relinquish all his sense of responsibility and need for order, night times in the museum are going to be a whole lot more adventurous and enjoyable from now on!
Continuing a grand tradition of stories about toys coming to life (here’s an Amazon listmania list of such stories, to say nothing of Toy Story) and inevitably calling to mind The Night at the Museum by Milan Trenc and the subsequent film, you might ask what does Lost in the Toy Museum add to the mix?
First and foremost for me is the tremedous beauty of David Lucas’ illustrations, full of pattern and colour. Then there’s the story which is perfectly pitched for the youngest listeners to enjoy with its simple text and pared down plot (although I’ve also read it to classes of 6 and 7 year olds and they’ve loved it too, going off at break time to play their own games of Hot and Cold). I love the fact that the toys, even though they are museum exhibits, want to play and have fun – exactly what toys should be all about (unlike the nasty dolls in the exhibition in Rumer Godden’s The Dolls’ House who simply want to be admired), and I’m utterly entranced by the fact that all the characters which appear in Lost in the Toy Museum are based on real exhibits in the Museum of Childhood; I can’t wait to take my girls to the museum with this book and play our own game of hide and seek as we search for Bunting and his friends.
Having read Lost in the Toy Museum we were determined to find our own local toy museum to visit, and that’s how we ended up in Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery. A relatively small museum, they nevertheless had a lovely toy gallery, packed with toys that the kids could actually play with as well as examples behind glass cabinets to look at.
This money bank was one of my favourite toys…
…but the biggest hit with the girls was the puppet theatre.
So when we returned home we set about making our own puppet theatre. Using a cardboard box I cut out the proscenium and then M and J decorated it with buttons, glitter glue, feathers and rick-rack. We use Pritt Power glue – normally I wouldn’t mention such a detail but this glue was so very easy to use and so strong that I was really impressed! Will definitely be using it with the girls again.
Once complete with some gauzy curtains the girls dressed the stage, provided me with a chair and a ticket, and proceeded to entertain me and themselves for a long time performing plays with all different sorts of toys.
Whilst we made our theatre we listened to:
Other activities which could work well alongside reading Lost in the Toy Museum include:
If you’re looking for a great book about making puppets with your kids I can’t recommend this one highly enough.
Do you have a favourite old toy? What’s he/she called? What secret life do you think he/she has led? Why not ask your Mum or Grandpa about their memories of their favourite toy?
David Lucas will be appearing at the Just So Festival in August. His next book will be published in September – Christmas at the Toy Museum. You can find out more about David in my interview with him, and on his website.