Where do old toys and blankets go? Their own private island, it seems.
In gentle, rhyming verse, a blanket and a bear are presented to a baby boy who takes to them instantly. When the previously inseparable threesome are separated during an ocean voyage, the boy is bereft. Meanwhile, the blanket and bear set off to find their owner, discovering instead a land where lost objects like them enjoy the island life. In a twist some won’t see coming, the blanket and bear initially reject the lost-toy paradise, only to return to it when it is clear that their human really has outgrown them. It ends, “Now think for a minute / of the toys you once knew. / Are they now on that island, / telling stories of you?” Evidently meaning to soothe fretful children who’ve been separated from their best beloved objects, Kelly’s text, his debut, is quite effective. Tanaka’s artistic style, on the other hand, only really takes off when blanket and bear are on their own, and the humans, painted with heavy-lidded doe eyes, are little more than a distant memory. Only then do the soft acrylics soar, as capable in their depictions of sun-drenched landscapes as they are in those of the threadbare, split seams of a much-loved toy’s backside.
Despite the touch-and-go artwork, the book can offer copious comfort to children with the suggestion that their closest childhood friends have found second lives elsewhere. (Picture book. 4-8)