When they are left outside in the garden overnight, an eclectic group of toys discover the dark and the night sky for the first time. When they become a little worried about the night ahead, WonderDoll decides to tell them all a story to pass the time until dawn, and this takes them on a surprising outer space adventure with the Hoctopize, a creature that strangely looks like a glove wearing pyjamas, who goes from garden to park rescuing lost and abandoned toys, on the search for his very own beloved cuddly toy, lost along the way.
Toys that come to life are always a winner in children’s literature and Mini Grey has already successfully visited this genre with the wonderful Traction Man series. Toys in Space is another glorious representation of the genre and will delight young readers. The characterisation of the toys is brilliant, particularly the Cowboy and his amazing retorts, and although they are a very different bunch in a very different adventure, there is a little something in there that reminds one of the Toy Story gang.
Mini Grey’s signature page layout help accentuate the narrative; the use of panels, speech bubbles give the impression that you are half way between a picture book and a comic. This particular style makes Mini Grey’s books ideal for slightly older children who can read, and works perfectly as a gentle induction into the comic genre. But younger audiences, and particularly non-readers, will be delighted by the illustrations that are bursting with detail to discover. Readers will also be delighted by the humour in the story, the party games being a particular highlight.
The message about losing a beloved toy will not be lost on any child who has had the misfortune of being in this situation and they will be able to sympathise with the Hoctopize’s plight. But Toys in Space is also very much about the soothing power of stories when one is feeling insecure or sad. What a lovely gentle message to this fantastically flamboyant adventure.
Now, I think Ms Grey ought to do some matchmaking and allow WonderDoll to meet Traction Man, don’t you think?
All illustrations © Mini Grey
Source: review copy from publisher
Be sure to come back tomorrow for Mini Grey’s Fabulous Five!