What to do when a boy won’t clean his room?
Joe’s father warns that the Toy Fairy will take toys if they are left on the floor, but the little white boy doesn’t believe it. Skillfully rendered, appealing illustrations depict Joe and his world, and the focus on a boy’s relationship with his father is a welcome touch. When toys disappear, Joe assumes his father is to blame, so he’s surprised to witness a tiny fairy (depicted as a winged, middle-aged white man in a flannel shirt) shrinking his toys, throwing them in a sock, and flying out the door. Selfish Joe then sets out one of his sister’s dolls—he doesn’t want to risk his own—and holds tight when the Toy Fairy appears. Shrunk and thrown into the sock, he’s eventually brought to the room of a new boy from school who has no toys at all. Magically restored to his natural size (and apparently never having caught the attention of the Toy Fairy), Joe returns home, leaving his toys (and his sister’s!) behind. Having learned his lesson, he cleans up ever after, except when he leaves a toy for the Toy Fairy to put to good use. Though the story is obviously well-intentioned—Joe learns to clean up, to appreciate what he’s got, and to share—and not without child appeal, its clear point is to instruct children and impart values rather than tell a good story. The result is heavy-handed and didactic.
A fairy tale that’s more morality than magic. (Picture book. 3-6)