Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic

Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic


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“A bit like the great movie Toy Story and a bit like the wonderful Kate DiCamillo book The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. This is a great family book.” —The Washington Post
Here is the first book in the highly acclaimed Toys trilogy, which includes the companion books Toy Dance Party and Toys Come Home and chronicles the unforgettable adventures of three brave and loving toys.

In these six linked stories from Emily Jenkins, and illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner Paul O. Zelinsky, readers will meet three extraordinary friends. Lumphy is a stuffed buffalo. StingRay is a stuffed stingray. And Plastic... well, Plastic isn't quite sure what she is. They all belong to the Little Girl who lives on the high bed with the fluffy pillows. A very nice person to belong to. 

Together is best for these three best friends. Together they look things up in the dictionary, explore the basement, and argue about the meaning of life. And together they face dogs, school, television commercials, the vastness of the sea, and the terrifying bigness of the washing machine.

Parents' Choice Silver Honor Winner, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book, and an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Book Award Winner, Toys Go Out is truly a modern classic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385736619
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 09/09/2008
Series: Toys Go Out Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 67,941
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.22(d)
Lexile: 670L (what's this?)
Age Range: 6 - 9 Years

About the Author

Emily Jenkins has written many highly acclaimed books for children, including the popular award-winning chapter books Toys Go Out, Toy Dance Party, and Toys Come Home, as well as a picture book that features the same beloved characters, Toys Meet Snow, which was named a New York Times Notable Book and a Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of the Year. She is also the author of A Fine Dessert, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year; Water in the Park, a Booklist Editors’ Choice and a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book; and Lemonade in Winter, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. Visit her at

Paul O. Zelinsky is the illustrator of Dust Devil, a New York Times Notable Book and an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award winner. He received the Caldecott Medal for his retelling of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel, as well as three Caldecott Honors, for Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, and Swamp Angel. His illustrations for Toy Dance Party were called “superlative” in a starred review by Kirkus Reviews. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more at

Read an Excerpt

chapter one

In the Backpack, Where It Is Very Dark

The backpack is dark and smells like a wet bathing suit.

Waking up inside, Lumphy feels cramped and grumped. “I wish I had been asked,” he moans. “If I had been asked, I would have said I wasn’t going.”

“Shhh,” says StingRay, though she doesn’t like the dark backpack any more than Lumphy. “It’s not so bad if you don’t complain.”

“We weren’t told about this trip,” snorts Lumphy. “We were just packed in the night.”

“Why don’t you shut your buffalo mouth?” snaps StingRay. “Your buffalo mouth is far too whiny.”

There is a small nip on the end of her tail, and StingRay curls it away from Lumphy’s big square buffalo teeth.

Plastic usually hums when she is feeling nervous. “Um tum tum—um tum tum—tum—tiddle—tee,” she trills, to see if it will make the inside of the backpack seem any nicer.

“Don’t you know the words to that song?” asks Lumphy.

“There are no words. It’s a hum,” answers Plastic.

No one says anything for a while, after that.

“Does anyone know where we’re going in here?” wonders Lumphy.

Plastic does not.

StingRay doesn’t, either.

“My stomach is uncomfortable,” grumphs the buffalo. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

. . . . .

Buh-buh bump! It feels like the backpack is going down some stairs. Or maybe up some stairs.

Or maybe up something worse than stairs.

StingRay tries to think calming thoughts. She pictures the high bed with the fluffy pillows where she usually sleeps. She pictures the Little Girl with the blue barrette, who scratches where the ears would be if StingRay had ears. But none of these thoughts makes her feel calm.

“I hope we’re not going to the vet,” StingRay says, finally.

“What’s the vet?” asks Lumphy.

“The vet is a big human dressed in a white coat who puts animals in a contraption made from rubber bands, in order to see what is wrong with them,” answers StingRay, who sometimes says she knows things when she doesn’t. “Then he pokes them over and over

with needles the size of carrots,

and makes them drink nasty-tasting medicine,

and puts them in the bumpity washing machine to fix whatever’s broken.”

“If anyone needs to go to the vet, it’s the one-eared sheep,” says Plastic, remembering the oldest of the Little Girl’s toys. “And Sheep’s not even here. No, we can’t be going to the vet. We aren’t broken.”

“Speak for yourself,” snorts Lumphy, who feels even sicker than before at the thought of the bumpity washing machine.

. . . . .

Woosh. Woosh. The backpack begins to swing.

Back and forth. Back and forth.

Or maybe round and round.

“I hope we’re not going to the zoo,” moans StingRay.

“They’ll put us in cages with no one to talk to. Each one in a separate cage,

and we’ll have to woosh back and forth all day,

and do tricks on giant swings,

with people throwing quarters at our faces,

and teasing.”

“I don’t think we’re big enough for the zoo,” Plastic says hopefully. “I’m pretty sure they’re only interested in very large animals over there.”

“I’m large,” says Lumphy.

“She means really, really, very large,” says StingRay. “At the zoo they have stingrays the size of choo-choo trains;

and plastics the size of swimming pools.

Zoo buffaloes would never fit in a backpack.

They eat backpacks for lunch, those buffaloes.”

“Is that true?” asks Lumphy, but nobody answers him.

. . . . .

Plunk! The backpack is thrown onto the ground.

Or maybe into a trash can.

Or onto a garbage truck.

“We might be going to the dump!” cries StingRay. “We’ll be tossed in a pile of old green beans,

and sour milk cartons,

because the Little Girl doesn’t love us anymore,

and it will be icy cold all the time,

and full of garbage-eating sharks,

and it will smell like throw-up.”

“I don’t think so,” soothes Plastic.

“I’ll be forced to sleep on a slimy bit of used paper baggie, instead of on the big high bed with the fluffy pillows!” continues StingRay.

There is a noise outside the backpack. Not a big noise, but a rumbly one. “Did you hear that?” asks StingRay. “I think it is the X-ray machine. The vet is going to X-ray us one by one

and look into our insides with an enormous magnifying glass,

and then poke us with the giant carrot!”

“I’m sure it’s not an X-ray,” says Plastic calmly, although she isn’t sure at all. “An X-ray would be squeakier.”

“Then I think it is a lion,” cries StingRay. “A lion at the zoo who does not want to be on display with any small creatures like you and me.

A lion who doesn’t like sharing her swing set,

and wants all the quarters for herself.

She is roaring because she hasn’t had any lunch yet,

and her favorite food is stingrays.”

“A lion would be fiercer,” says Plastic, a bit un- certainly. “It would sound hungrier, I bet.”

“Maybe it is a giant buffalo,” suggests Lumphy.

“Maybe it is a dump truck!” squeals StingRay. “A big orange dump truck tipping out piles of rotten groceries on top of us,

and trapping us with the garbage-eating sharks

and the throw-up smell!”

“Wouldn’t a dump truck be louder?” asks Plastic, though she is starting to think StingRay might have a point. “I’m sure it’s not a dump truck.”

. . . . .

The backpack thumps down again with a bang. “I would like to be warned,” moans Lumphy. “Sudden bumps make everything worse than it already is.”

“The Girl doesn’t love us and she’s trying to get rid of us!” cries StingRay in a panic.

The backpack opens. The rumbly noise gets louder, and the light is very bright—so bright that StingRay, Plastic, and Lumphy have to squinch up their eyes and take deep breaths before they can see where they are. A pair of warm arms takes them all out of the dark, wet-bathing-suit smell together.

The three toys look around. There are small chairs, a sunny window, and a circle of fidgety faces.

It is not the vet.

It is not the zoo.

It is not the dump. (They are pretty sure.)

But where is it?

The rumbly noise surges up. A grown-up asks everyone to Please Be Quiet Now. And then comes a familiar voice.

“These are my best friends,” says the Little Girl who owns the backpack and sleeps in the high bed with the fluffy pillows. “My best friends in the world. That’s why I brought them to show-and-tell.”

“Welcome,” says the teacher.

Sticky, unfamiliar fingers pat Lumphy’s head and StingRay’s plush tail.

Plastic is held up for all to admire. “We are here to be shown and told,” she whispers to StingRay and Lumphy, feeling quite bouncy as she looks around at the schoolroom. “Not to be thrown away or put under the X-ray machine!”

The teacher says Lumphy looks a lot like a real buffalo. (Lumphy wonders what the teacher means by “real,” but he is too happy to worry much about it.)

“We’re special!” whispers StingRay. “We’re her best friends!”

“I knew it would be something nice,” says Plastic.

. . . . .

Funny, but the ride home is not so uncomfortable. The smell is still there, but the backpack seems rather cozy. Plastic has herself a nap.

StingRay isn’ t worried about vets and zoos and gar-bage dumps anymore; she curls herself into a ball by Lumphy’s buffalo stomach. “The Little Girl loves us,” she tells him. “I knew it all along, really. I just didn’t want to say.”

Lumphy licks StingRay’ s head once, and settles down to wait. When he knows where he is going, traveling isn’t so bad. And right now, he is going home.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Utterly delightful . . . bound to be a favorite with any child who has ever adored an inanimate object.”—School Library Journal, Starred

“An entertaining look at identity, friendship, and belonging.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Toys Go Out 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great read aloud chapter book. I originally checked this out at the local library for my 6 year old to read. However, she laughed so much it quickly became a family read-aloud. The book jacket says for 7-11, but a year or two younger would still enjoy it. Hilarious antecdotes of Lumphy afraid of the 'terrifying bigness' of the washing machine and hiding in the closet, Plastic getting attacked at the beach by a 'possible shark' (it was a dog), and Stingray worried that they are going to be sent to trash heap and get attacked by 'trash eating sharks and be surrounded by vomit smell'! Loved it so much we bought it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book aloud to my 1st grader, but my 3rd and 5th graders ended up listening in. The story is, of course, too childish for the older ones to admit they liked to their friends, but they later read it again on their own- so it was OK. Then we recommended it to our 1st grade teacher who was looking for a book to read to the class, and I know they enjoyed it. The personalities of the toys were charming and funny. It uses a simple plot and an old idea of toys coming to life at night but was still fresh. Perhaps it is the thoughts and anxiety of the toys like Plastic that rings so true to a child.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great for kids with imagination.also very funny
katieginn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book emphasizes a cute relation between kids and their toys. This book targets young beginning chapter book readers. A cute chaming story that children will love.
sweetiegherkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book tells the story of the secret lives of toys, similar to books like The Velveteen Rabbit or movies like Toy Story. The book presents six vignettes of the various adventures of three of the Little Girl¿s toys ¿ Lumphy (a stuffed buffalo), StingRay (a plush stingray), and Plastic (a rubber ball). The stories are cute, although full of misinformation (such as jellyfish are made of grape and raspberry jelly and sharks eat garbage), which is perhaps less relevant to a work that requires complete suspension of reality. Also, I was not in love with the writing style ¿ it is not particularly spectacular and StingRay¿s dialogue is written in broken lines as if it is poetry when it is not, which quickly became annoying. Zelinsky¿s pictures are lovely, although there are not many of them. Overall, it¿s not a bad book but there was nothing so wonderful about it that I would recommend it.
tamilarson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fun adventure of 3 toys who are taken to school, the beach and the little girls birthday party. Stingray is a little insecure, but thinks she is very knowledgeable. Lumphy (the buffalo) is adventurous, and plastic (aka ball) is a very happy toy! A super fun adventure! My favorite part is when plastic goes to see Tuk Tuk the towel and finds out what he really is, a ball!
imagrtdnlvr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This contemporary realistic fiction book is about a friendship between three toys. A stuffed buffalo, Lumphy, a stuffed stingray, Stingray, and a rubber ball, Plastic. An adventure is told about each of them, with a short at the end. The girl that owns them is having a birthday and they need to get her a present. But, they have no money or a way to get to the store. Hmmm...what will they do?My oldest son enjoyed us reading this together. I asked him if he would want his stuffed animals to come alive and he said yes. He thought it would be easier to play with them and he wouldn't have to do the voices. I don't blame him, I use to wish the same thing.As an extension, I would have the students write a short story of one of their toys adventures and then share it with the class. I would have the students do research on a buffalo, stingray, etc. to compare/contrast the book characters to the real-life ones.
MartyAllen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Join Lumphy, Stingray, Plastic, and their friends in their adventures. This is a lovely little book for children just moving into chapter books. The text is widely spaced, making for a quick read, and the occasional line break-ups remind one of how a child can sometimes ramble in a story. The toys are like little kids themselves, curious and naïve, making them easily appealing to readers. The pictures, black and white, are drawn in a simple, cartoonish style children will adore. The author brings the toys to life, literally and metaphorically, giving each a distinct personality that makes the reader care about what happens next to them. While children will enjoy imagining the secret life of their toys, even the towel and washing machine, given personalities just as full as the toys, will capture their hearts.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There¿s always a book that looks like it will be the best; Toys Go Out was the book I thought I¿d like best. Actually, I wasn¿t taken with the story. A group of toys have little adventures. Perhaps it was too close to reading the book about the adventurous wooden doll from the 1920¿s.
sharese on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary:Toys go Out is a great story about a little girl's toys and the adventures they go on throughout the book. The get into trouble, learn life lessons, and learn about themselves and how they fit into the world in which they exist. It is a great story with adorable pictures to go along with the story.Review:I read this book as a part of a class and loved it. It is simple and lovely but has a great underlying message about friendship and love. I would certainlly read it to kids at school but find it too young for my kids at home. K-4 seems about right.
aplanchak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's hard to say refuse a book with a fifteen-word subtitle, especially if tailing a three-word, barely-a-sentence title. There is no need to introduce the characters here, as the subtitle meets that need. The tone of Toys Go Out is light and the reading is easy, but the subject matter is much meatier than mere amusement. The characters' perceptions of their world are funny, and somewhat tainted by StingRay's "knowledge." For example, when Plastic meets a dog on the beach, she confuses it for a shark (a "possible shark" is what she calls it).As we get to know each of the characters, they get to know themselves. This is mostly done in humorous ways (e.g., Plastic tries to understand what she is by consulting a dictionary) but the longing and self-doubt of their identity crises is realized. StingRay becomes downright dark at one point. Although she is "dry clean only," she decides to test whether she can float in the bathtub. She cannot float, and as the water climbs higher above her, she suffers a loss of faith in herself. She says, "I'm a sinker, and a stinker, too, and if I rot and drown and dissolve in this tub, it is probably better than I deserve." Whoa.The content is otherwise benign, but there is a cadence to the text that I never quite got a hold on. It happens when StingRay conveys her worldly knowledge; the sentences would be separated into multiple lines which seemed like it may have been either poetic or a list of some sort, but neither "poetry" nor "lists" quite explain what was happening in those lines. The good news is, it isn't bothersome¿the line breaks themselves or not knowing the reason behind them; you just keep busy enjoying the ride. And the chapters work as standalone stories, so you can take the book in whatever doses you like.
bettyjo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The young girls toys can speak to one another and have quite an adventure.
Librarygirl66 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Six stories relate the adventures of three best friends, who happen to be toys.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AuthorMomCC More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting read. I tells of three toy friends and what life is like for them in a little girl's room. This is far from Toy Story-like adventures. These toys are relatively new to the world and they have lessons to learn along the way. They face their fears and learn about friendship. I recommend this book. Reviewed by Cherese Vines
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a friend who loves this book. I want to get it. Is it good?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My brothers were given this book as one of the books that they had to read over the summer before school starts. Im a few years older than they are. Our mom was reading this aloud and i happened to love it so much that i started listening to
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great short fun read. Amazing work done on lessons,and great new ways to learn and read! I really liked it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful book, speaks to kids and adults.
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Im all black and in battle my colors turn black and white stripes. Im a very strong (tom) warrior without a mate.