“[I]t’s hard to be yourself when you don’t know what you are.”
Grumbolt wakes up in a trash can next to a used doll pattern from the U Can Sew company and a complaint letter from an 8-year-old who’d tried to use the pattern and failed. She’d created something with arms of two different lengths, two different ears, and a silly expression. Grumbolt feels sorry for that doll until he realizes he is it! He sets out to find a child to play with. After a run-in with a live cat, he meets OmniBus Squared, who’s recruiting for Cmdr. Hedgehog’s Toy Academy. Grumbolt wants to learn to be a better toy, so he convinces OmniBus to take him. Grumbolt’s declared a plush (rather than collectible, action, or educational) and enrolls in Tea Parties 101 and Introduction to Dress-up. He’s a failure, but he keeps trying. Then Cmdr. Hedgehog’s arm is stolen; surely the culprit is from the Evil Toy Academy. Can Grumbolt help find it and succeed in school? Film and comic-book writer Lynch’s prose debut is entertaining enough (Taylor’s Saturday-morning-cartoon illustrations help) but no great innovation. This chapter book is best read together because, like the author’s movies (The Secret Life of Pets and Minions), it’s sprinkled with fairly sophisticated jokes for caregivers to enjoy as well as slapstick goofiness for the kids.
A familiar-feeling series kickoff. (Fantasy. 6-8)