Teddy & Co. by Cynthia Voigt, illustrations by Paola Zakimi.
My copy: Knopf Books for Young Readers, November 2016. ARC (review copy), 179 pages.
Source: Courtesy of my local bookstore.
Teddy is a thinking kind of bear. Of all his friends, he does the most wondering. He lives with a ragtag group of lost toys—a very hungry snake, an elephant who likes to bake, two charmingly silly pigs, and a reclusive penguin—and they all bump along happily together. But their peaceful world gets shaken up when new toys arrive—first a rabbit, who is not as soft and floppy as he looks, and then a beautiful doll with royal ambitions. Will the newcomers learn to fit into the community? Or will the community be forever changed by them? As Teddy the philosopher would answer: Yes.
Teddy is a stuffed bear without legs whose mode of transportation is a red wagon his elephant friend pulls around. Hooray for the representation of disabled characters in books for young people.
This book is a cute little tale about a bunch of toys and their day to day adventures when two new toys show up unexpectedly: a douche-y rabbit and a bratty doll who decides she’s going to be Queen of everything.
The writing is simple, yet whimsical. The sketches are absolutely charming. The ARC doesn’t have the finished illustrations, but the placeholders promise wonderful, fairytale-like art in the published book.
The only problem I had with Teddy & Co. was the world building. How did these toys get to this island? What’s their purpose for living there? Were they used toys who retired to a magical little haven? How do they actually live on the island? Is there just an endless supply of food, fabric, and building materials? How do they actually bake muffins and build houses and sew clothes without thumbs? How did the rabbit and the doll get to the island, and what was the purpose of their appearance?
Maybe younger readers will brush this aside if they even realize the giant questions that are never explained, but I was scratching my head the whole time.
This is a cute little book, but it’s not very fleshed-out or particularly meaningful. There’s not much character development, there’s not a big hero’s journey — nothing changes much by the end. Read it if you feel inclined, since it’s a nice short read, but if you want a children’s story with real heart that will enchant you, pick up those classics like Because of Winn-Dixie or even Winnie-the-Pooh instead. ♦
Have you read Teddy & Co.?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a whimsical little children’s book you read and can still remember?
Comment below letting me know!