A group of toys lives together on an island, ironing out their differences and sharing small adventures.
At the center is Teddy, a thoughtful bear who is somewhat the worse for wear (he lacks legs). He’s cared for by Umpah, an elephant who loves to bake. Their neighbors include Zia and Prinny, an apparently unrelated pair of pigs who nevertheless enjoy a warm mother-daughter relationship, Sid, an always-hungry but not-the-least-bit-threatening snake, and Peng, a standoffish wooden penguin. Newcomers who shake things up a bit are Mr. B., a stuffed rabbit who thinks of himself as “sleek and selfish and sharp” despite his cuddly appearance, and Clara, a grandly dressed, large white doll whose imperious demands create consternation. Together they explore their environment, master some useful skills, figure out how to live democratically, and eat a lot of muffins. Occasionally old-fashioned language (“Oh dear, oh dearie me” is Zia’s repeated refrain), a leisurely pace, and limited action suggest that this may be most successful as a read-aloud. The illustrations (most not seen) will likely help connect readers to the characters.
Although the tone is decidedly different from her earlier work, Voigt’s writing remains masterful, and her attention continues to be on what makes a family, how we can live together in harmony, and how individuals overcome their difficulties. (Fantasy. 7-10)