In her book Toys Go Out, it’s as if Emily Jenkins has given each toy a little stuffed mind and a huge stuffed heart. Toys Go Out is about Lumphy, StingRay, and Plastic,
toys owned by the Little Girl with the high bed. Their stories are told from a toy's perspective;
together, they get through everything.
When Lumphy, StingRay, and Plastic are in the Little Girl’s backpack, they wonder where they are going, and why. StingRay fears they might be going to the vet. Plastic says, “If anyone needs to go to the vet, it’s the one-eared sheep.” StingRay then fears the zoo is their destination. Her imagination even sees them at the dump. When the backpack is finally opened and the three toys are taken out, they see their new surroundings. They realize they were quite mistaken about their final destination.
The toys have a place to go to when they need help. In the Little Girl’s house, there is a yellow towel
named TukTuk that lives in the bathroom; she is knowledgeable about things like floss and fingernail clippers. Lumphy the buffalo likes to visit TukTuk at night. One morning, Plastic reads in the dictionary the definition of plastic. After reading that definition, Plastic hides under the Little Girl’s bed. It’s a visit to TukTuk that finally makes Plastic feel better.
The toys have outings in this book. StingRay gets jealous when Plastic goes on a beach trip with the Little Girl. StingRay is determined to prove she is a floater and not a sinker, and therefore deserving to go on a beach trip too. Despite her “dry clean only” tag, StingRay visits the bathroom and gets into a tub of water. She gets in serious trouble when she realizes her belly hasn’t moved off the bottom. Plastic is having trouble in the water, too. While at the beach, Plastic has a possible shark encounter and needs to find a way back to the Little Girl.
Lumphy’s trip is a picnic with the Little Girl. It’s on this trip where he encounters peanut butter and subsequently becomes a “greasy buffalo” that needs a cleaning in the washing machine. He doesn’t understand why he needs a washing, though, because “I have some nice clean food on me. I don’t see that it’s a problem that needs washing.”
StingRay has put the fear of the basement into Lumphy. Trying not to smell of peanut butter, Lumphy goes into hiding. But it turns out Lumphy’s love for the Little Girl is stronger than his fear of the basement and the washing machine. So Lumphy the buffalo is the first of the toys to have a conversation with Frank, the washing machine. On the next picnic outing, Lumphy deliberately messes with the jam so he can become a “greasy buffalo” again in order to visit Frank in the basement.
Lumphy would like to experience one more trip. He wants to sleep on the high bed with the Little Girl just like StingRay does. StingRay has the idea to add flannel and bows to Lumphy to make him into a more bedtime-looking buffalo,
but they opt for Plastic’s suggestion: using subliminal messages on the Little Girl to get Lumphy up on the bed. When Lumphy does get up there, he realizes he misses the action on the floor
and he desperately wants to get back down. One night, even though he’s tied with a ribbon to the bedpost, he jumps. Although he lands on the floor, his tail does not
- they have become separated. Plastic makes Lumphy feel
better about his tail stump by saying “None of the tough
buffalos have tails.”
These three toys are friends who make each either feel better when they can. There comes a day when they want to make the Little Girl feel special. The three toys travel from room to room to find a “quality gift” for the Little Girl’s birthday. Lumphy comes back with a can of creamed corn from the basement, and Plastic comes back with a book and a plant from the living room. The toys realize none of their presents is special enough for the Little Girl. But when the Little Girl wakes up in the morning, she does find three wrapped gifts on her windowsill. After the gifts are open, each toy, including the rocking horse in the corner and the toy mice that play marbles at night, eat pieces of cupcake and drink tea. They are celebrating many things besides the Little Girl’s seventh birthday.
These loyal, good-intentioned toys are illustrated in black and white by Paul O. Zelinsky. I only wish the book were longer so I could enjoy more of these wonderful illustrations. The toys are so innocent looking, so trusting. To finally see TukTuk on the bathroom floor or Frank the washing machine in the basement after reading about them is such a treat! My favorite illustration is one of the last.
The Little Girl and all her toys are surrounding the birthday cupcake. I think they all feel very fortunate to be in the Little Girl’s life, and to be with each other.
Because I live for books and reading, I have read a lot, but I didn’t know writing could get this good. I laughed at these stories,
and I enjoyed every character; mostly, I admired Emily Jenkin’s talent. Books like this one make me want to read forever. I cannot recommend this book enough
- it's unforgettable.