Hello, friends! Our book today is The Return of Teddy, written by Marcia Choo and illustrated by Xinyi Yao, a tale of toys, and friendship, lost and found.
Teddy is an old-fashioned toy bear, waiting on the shelves of a toy store for his adventure to begin. You see, Teddy is not simply a toy, he is a KNIGHT toy, a brave and fearless bear who is confident in his destiny of chivalrous service to his best friend and shelf-mate, Cinderella the doll. One day, Teddy hears a strange noise and, after calling out to Cinderella, is distraught to find that she has disappeared! Throwing himself from his shelf at her (assumed) dollnapper, he finds an equally puzzled cat who is on a mission of its own. Can the duo solve the mystery of the missing doll.. or will their quest lead them in an entirely unexpected direction?
A unique, layered tale with an unexpected message. An ode to lost toys based on a real-life experience of the author’s daughter, Choo weaves a singular tale with a daringly different plot. SPOILER: while Teddy and Cinderella are eventually reunited, it is by pure happenstance. What Teddy learns is that being a hero is often not done through daring deeds, but through expressing kindness and support when it is needed most. And while the conclusion of the story may be a little strange, given that Teddy replaces another lost toy (a resolution that may feel slightly unsatisfactory to younger readers without the author’s note to give it context), it is uplifting, if unexpected. Honestly, this reads a little bit more as a tale of a nostalgic relationship with a beloved toy than a storybook narrative for children, which isn’t necessarily bad, but does present some complexity in finding the right audience. Otherwise, the folk/anime-inspired artwork is gorgeous, rich and atmospheric, the length is great for a storytime, and JJ and I kind of loved it. This is a unique tale that may not appeal to all audiences, but for those who understand the deep connection between children and their toys, this is a treat. Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)