It starts with an observation about family life which is tiny but which resonates loudly with us; it being summer holidays here and lots of time spent out in the garden, on more than one occasion it has happened that some of the kids’ toys have been left outside over night.
So a great start – we open Mini‘s latest book and the girls already think it is about our home (or so easily could be). Then a tiny bit an anxiety is introduced; the toys are a little scared by the night and what it might bring. Anxiety is ratcheted up to another level of worry when the toys are beamed aboard an alien space ship…
This worry is transformed into sympathetic concern when the toys discover the alien is only looking for his very own very toy which he has lost. Will the toys be able to help the alien? Will he be reunited with his own Cuddles? And will the toys make it back to their own garden?
Without giving away the details, the emotional arc we went through, which started with “delightful recognition >> anxiety >> worry” then continued “hope >> happiness >> relief >> great satisfaction (with a giggle)”. A perfect journey for a picture book!
As well as the thrilling emotional ride this book takes you on (with just the right amount of nerves for young children), this book scores highly for its adorable cast of characters. Having fallen in love with Traction Man and Scrubbing Brush, I did wonder if any new characters from Mini Grey could find a similar place in our hearts, but the crowd here are great and surely offer wonderful opportunities for more stories in the future featuring the same cast (What do you say, Mini?).
The visual narrative in the book is perhaps more complex than many picture books you’ll find on the bestsellers’ list, with a Jack Bauer / 24 style split screen take on events running concurrently. I like the richness this brings, and although my kids had absolutely no problems understanding how events are unfolding I wonder if some parents who are not confident readers might be put off by this.
I hope not, because Toys in Space is an exciting and heart warming story about losing (and finding) your favourite toy and is bound to delight children far and wide.
My girls were very keen to act out Toys in Space as soon as we’d read it for the first time. We gathered their favourite toys together, but didn’t have a suitable alien. Thus our own Hoctopize (as the alien is called in the book) came into being….
I cut a ping-pong ball in half and superglued the two halves to a rubber glove.
The girls then decorated their rubber glove aliens with permanent pens.
The recycling was raided and used to create space ships and finally we were all ready to play our own version of Toys in Space.
Whilst we made our aliens and space ships we listened to:
Other activities which would be fun to do alongside reading Toys in Space include:
And finally, here’s a gratuitous link to a Pigs in Space episode. Enjoy!
Disclosure: I received my copy of Toys in Space from the publishers. This review, nevertheless, reflects my own and honest opinion.