Thursday, November 29, 2012

When Toys Wish for Toys

Christmas at the Toy Museum, by David Lucas, Candlewick, $15.99, ages 3 and up, 32 pages, 2012. When the last visitor leaves the Museum of Childhood on Christmas Eve, the toy exhibits come to life and gather around the museum tree, only to find there's nothing under the tree for them. So, at the suggestion of Bunting, a thoughtful old toy cat, they wrap each other up in paper and bows, and give each other as gifts. The problem is, there's an uneven number of toys and come morning, Bunting is the odd present out  and has no gift to open. But kindness always comes back to those who give, and soon an angel glides down from the tree with a tiny golden box. The air sparkles and out pops a wishing star. Bunting has one wish to make -- so, what does he want more than anything? Lucas's sweet, simple followup to Lost in the Toy Museum shows that generosity repays itself and it gently teaches readers to be giving too. Flipping through the book is like stepping into a childhood dream. Like his other picture books, the premises are quirky and spirit-lifting, his perspectives grand and wondrous, and his artwork, lively and fantastical. Lucas works richly colored, whimsical shapes, such as harlequin diamonds and checkerboards, into playful drawings, in which characters appear so energetic they look as if Lucas drew them on the spot.  Once I read Lucas' books Whale and The Robot and the Bluebird, I craved to read everything he made. To see excerpts of his work, visit Lucas' website here. Best part: A comical two-page spread of stuffed toys, puppets and dolls taking turns wrapping each other.

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