Anyone who has watched a baby bang on pots and pans and tear up wrapping paper in lieu of engaging with actual toys will appreciate David Shannon’s playful picture book Too Many Toys
Shannon is best known for his series of toddler and preschool books featuring David, a naughty, crudely drawn little boy who pours macaroni and cheese on the dog and runs down the street pants-less to the chagrin of his exasperated, but loving, mom. But Shannon also has a batch of books for slightly older readers that he’s both written and illustrated. Not only are his drawings humorous and rich; he spins a darn good yarn.
Too Many Toys
tells the story of Spencer, a little hoarder who isn’t happy when his mom tells him he has to pare down his overflowing collection of playthings.
Shannon captures the over-the-top culture of gifting in words and pictures. Not only does Spencer get toys on his birthday and on major holidays but, Shannon writes, “He got toys at the Drive-thru with his Kidburger, and at school for having lots of Peace Person Points, and at the dentist and the doctor when he didn’t squirm.”
The book’s colorful, zoomed-in drawings of piles upon piles of one-eyed teddy bears, maniacal-faced figurines and errant puzzle pieces speak volumes about how toys can easily become junk.
By the end of the story, Spencer and his mom have seemingly made progress, filling a huge box with agreed-upon toys to give away. Spencer’s mom takes a short break for a cup of tea and when she comes back upstairs, she’s exasperated to find the toys scattered all over the floor again. The last page shows Spencer in the box, now decorated to look like a rocket ship, exclaiming, “It’s the best toy EVER!”
Especially during this season of holiday excess, Too Many Toys
delivers the timely message that more isn’t always better.