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Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 06/01/2013 K-Gr 2—In this wonderfully offbeat story-within-a-story, a little boy forgets his toys in the garden. Afraid of spending the night outside, the toys ask WonderDoll, leader of the bunch, to tell them a tale as a distraction. WonderDoll spins an exciting yarn about the Hoctopize, an alien who collects abandoned toys aboard his ship while searching for his own lost Cuddles. When the alien beams up WonderDoll and company, captivating adventures commence. The toys help the Hoctopize realize that his captives should be returned home and throw him a party to cheer him up, which lasts until dawn. Clever layouts of the cartoonish but highly expressive illustrations divide the action of WonderDoll's story from the toys' reactions. While WonderDoll's narrative occupies the larger part of the spreads, the toys' hilarious speech-balloon commentary is relegated to a smaller sidebar. This picture book is for the of Grey's previous quirky stories or other animate toy adventures such as the longer Emily Jenkins's Toys Go Out (Random, 2006) or Michael Rosen's Red Ted and the Lost Things (Candlewick, 2009).—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2013 After a day of play, a group of seven toys are left forgotten on the lawn, and they’re exposed to the dark of night for the very first time. Trying to stave off their nervousness, the WonderDoll embarks on a story that, in classic bedtime-story fashion, features her listeners as the heroes and develops according to their questions and comments. In her story, an alien spaceship lands amid the toys; its occupant, the Hoctopize, has been collecting lost toys in hope of finding its own beloved and missing Cuddles. The toys convince the Hoctopize to send the lost back home and then cheer it up with a party before returning home themselves, and by then it’s dawn and the WonderDoll’s listeners will soon be found again. The interplay between the toy audience and ongoing story is what really gives the tale its zing, as the patient WonderDoll keeps adjusting the story to address the listeners’ speech-ballooned concerns (“And what about the Cowboy?” asks the Cowboy. “What did the Cowboy do?” “The Cowboy organized all the games,” the WonderDoll smoothly continues). Additionally, there’s a little twist at the end in images that show the Hoctopize finding its Cuddles tucked under a bush near the fallen toys. Grey’s art is busy but successfully balanced, counterpointing the action within the WonderDoll’s story against bordered sidebars and subsections displaying the attentively listening toys. The Hoctopize is basically a glorified and endearing glove puppet, and kids who figure that out will be quick to create their own Hoctopize equivalents. Kids familiar with classic bedtime stories about their own alter egos will grasp the concept immediately and be quick to draft their own toys into similar dramas. DS - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 05/01/2013 This meta bedtime story begins with a group of toys left in the backyard overnight. “And, for the very first time . . . the toys saw THIS”—with this being the starry night sky. Curious about the stars, the toys convince WonderDoll (a superhero-Barbie hybrid) to tell them a story. So she does, and it has the rhythm of a genuine make-it-up-as-you-go-along bedside tale. One star is a UFO, see, and it tractor beams up some toys just like them because the alien pilot, named Hoctopize (why not?), is searching for his own special lost toy and has been chucking the other ones he finds in the Room of a Thousand Lost Toys. Understandably, the plot never turns into much, with most of the chuckles coming from the toys in the backyard, who, just like a kid in bed, guide the story with comments: “The Hoctopize MUST send those Thousand Toys BACK!” Juggling dual locations, the illustrations are a bit chaotic. But if you know a Toy Story fan, this ought to scratch that popular itch. - Copyright 2013 Booklist.