Too Many Toys. New York: The Blue Sky Press.
Spencer has too many toys. Way too many. They're all over the place. And he keeps getting more, because EVERYONE gives Spencer toys.
What initially seems like a child's favorite, best-est, happiest dream EVER, turns out to be a curse as the toys become hazards for his family. Then the worth thing imaginable happens: Mom says some of the least favorite toys have got to go.
I am fond of Shannon's illustrations in this book. They're vibrant and full of toys readers will love to stare at. Shannon does a great job with perspective, making some of the toy's dominate the page and look life-like. I especially like the faces Spencer makes from page to page. This being among my favorites:
Intermixed among all the descriptions of the toys, Shannon makes gentle critiques of video games and present-giving culture. As the story goes on, it becomes more and more didactic, clearly giving the message having fewer toys is better will cause children to appreciate those toys more. While a necessary lesson, I feel like it should be directed to parents more than children.
Too Many Toys would be a good book to share with kids before it's time to do a massive family house cleaning, or before a parent or school hopes to give some toys away to charity.
Since students will probably enjoy staring at the illustrations (in fact it's hard not to) a teacher can encourage students to draw pictures of their own favorite toy and create a story for it.
Part of the narrative shows Spencer negotiating with his mother to keep certain toys. Based of of that, a teacher could build a lesson around the art of negotiating or use it to describe a bartering system. Since part of the message is to decrease the number of toys children have, a class could brainstorm thoughtful gift ideas that involve imagination or doing something for a friend or loved one instead of shopping for a toy.
This would be a good book to pair with the shorter book, Not a Box. Perhaps a teacher or parent could read Too Many Toys and the student could read Not a Box aloud.
Quotes of Note:
"Spencer had too many toys. They covered the floor of his bedroom and piled up in his closet. They were stashed under his bed. They spilled down the stairs and into the living room."
"He had puzzles, board games, and talking books that fueled his mind...and loud, jumpy, frenzied video games that didn't."
"Everyone gave toys to Spencer."