Synopses & Reviews
When Doc the bear arrives at the dump from his former home in a children's hospital, he's not sure what kind of life awaits him. But the friends he finds there are determined to make his new home a welcoming one. In the gentle, classic style of The Velveteen Rabbit,
the toys discover what it's like to live on their own.
Julian Fellowes's witty text and S. D. Schindler's lovely, intricate art combine to make a beautiful gift book, sure to strike a chord with any child--or adult--who has ever loved a stuffed toy.
Publishers Weekly, starred review:
Fellowes, a British actor, director, producer and Oscar-winning screenplay writer (for Gosford Park), presents a leisurely paced story, noteworthy for its polished delivery of a familiar theme—the afterlife of the discarded or lost toy. For years Doc, a teddy bear accessorized with a stethoscope, has comforted children in a hospital dayroom. His generosity of spirit makes him chief among “what the nurses referred to as the 'cuddly toys, although there was an element of impertinence in this which most of the occupants of the [toy] basket found rather irritating.” But after the hospital hastily spruces up the dayroom in preparation for a much-publicized royal visit, Doc winds up at a dump, grateful to have escaped a worse fate. The rest of the plot revolves around Docs adventures with his new friends, also toys separated from children and coping with their diminished status in various recognizably human ways. All rally when a threadbare stuffed rabbit arrives, inadvertently tossed into the trash instead of put into the van when his owners family moves to a new house, and together the toys come up with a risky scheme to reunite rabbit and boy. Schindlers (Dont Fidget a Feather) full-page ink-and-watercolor illustrations and his line art match the old-fashioned storytelling mood: he renders the toys and the settings with fine detail, using a realistic style to bridge the fantastic elements in the narrative. The abundance and richness of the pictures enhance this titles attractiveness as a read-aloud, as does the elevated vocabulary—the book offers a rare combination of the soothing and stimulating. Ages 4-up. (Oct.) -Publishers Weekly
Booklist, starred review:
When the dayroom of the childrens ward at Deerhurst Hospital is renovated in preparation for a royal visitor, Doc the bear and the other longtime toy residents find out that newer, shinier toys will be replacing them. Discarded and disheartened, Doc ends up in the junkyard, where he meets toy bears Humphrey and Nell; the General, a stuffed owl; and “Lady” Cora, a porcelain doll whose bitterness masks heartbreak. Junkyard life is tough, but Doc and the others find purpose by aiding an injured blackbird and by helping an old toy rabbit, mistakenly thrown away, return to its owner. The adventures require teamwork and courage, but, ultimately, the toys discover they can assist and comfort those in need—including one another. Some vocabulary may be too sophisticated for younger readers, but Fellowes exhibits a wonderful flair for both dialogue and characterization, and his descriptive narrative, touched with wit, echoes with the drama and poignancy of classic animal tales. Schindlers enchanting, intricate artwork, ranging from black-and-white spot art to full-page color pictures, sympathetically captures the characters feelings of loss and rejection as well as their dignity, determination, and grace. A fine choice to open dialogue about facing adversity and the importance of compassion and community, this story is one that kids will read over and over again. --Booklist
About the Author
is an actor,writer, director, and producer.His script for Gosford Park
was awarded an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and his novel, Snobs,
was a bestseller on both continents.Most recently, he wrote the book of the stage musical Mary Poppins
S. D. SCHINDLER has illustrated many books for children, including Whittington (aNewbery Honor book) and Don't Fidget a Feather (an ALA Notable Book). He lives in Philadelphia.
Reading Group Guide
About The Curious Adventures
The Curious Adventures of the Abandoned Toys is a new classic. Julian Fellowes witty text and S.D. Schindlers lively, intricate illustrations combine to make a book perfect for sharing with your young readers (aged 4 & up).
Two delightful stories follow a group of toys who, once cherished by their owners, are forced to make their own ways in a garbage dump. With each others help, the toys are able to achieve incredible feats like repairing a crows dislocated wing and reuniting an accidentally discarded toy with his owner. In the tradition of The Velveteen Rabbit, Fellowes story is a delight to read aloud and introduces young readers to the ideas of friendship, community service, and complex decision making.
Tips for Hosting a Story Time
Hosting a weekly story time is a great way to build a customer base and potentially a way to increase circulation at your library or sales at your bookstore.
• Choose a time to meet weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Keep this regular time so parents know when to bring their children to the library or store.
• Advertise! Put up posters in your library or store and at other places parents frequent, like the local grocery store or coffee shops. Information to include on your posters: time of meeting, a speciﬁc location, and activities children will experience at story time.
• Have someone from the childrens room available at the main entrance to greet visitors and direct them to the story time location.
• Encourage parents to participate with their children.
• Make your room child-friendly: if you dont have kid-sized chairs, put cushions on the ﬂoor for the kids to sit on—and join them!
• Time appropriately—consider the attention span of your audience and dont ask them to sit still for too long. Reading Stories Aloud
• Many of the characterizations in The Curious Adventures are made through dialogue. As you read, assign each character a distinctive voice that reﬂects his main traits (if you have extra copies of the book and have older readers, you may even ask them to participate).
• S.D. Schindlers art is detailed and evocative of the story. Be sure to show the pictures while you read.
• Most of the characters in The Curious Adventures are stuffed toys that you may already have around your library (or you could easily ﬁnd). Make your reading a puppet show by holding up the toys you have. You may ask your readers to help you by assigning each a character.
• There are some foreign expressions in the book that young readers may need help to understand. “By Jove” (pg. 34) “Keep mum, shes not so dumb” (pg. 39) “cest la guerre” (pg. 48) Point out the phrases as you read and ask your readers what they think the words mean. Ask readers to create their own expressions to use in similar circumstances.
• The Curious Adventures tells two stories about a group that worked together to make things happen that individuals couldnt have achieved alone. Ask your group to remember a time when they had to work with other children to get what they wanted. Ask a few members to tell their stories and ask the group what they learned from their experiences. Follow-up Activities
• Suggest titles kids may want to read next if they enjoyed The Curious Adventures: The Velveteen Rabbit, ,The Doll People, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane are some examples. • If you know of a shelter or thrift shop in your community, ask your readers to bring in some of their old toys to your next story time. Donate these toys as you see ﬁt.
• Ask your readers about favorite toys from when they were younger and if they remember whats happened to them now.