Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

See more online stores - Toys Go Out

Buy now from Random House

See more online stores - Toys Go Out

Buy now from Random House

See more online stores - Toys Go Out

Toys Go Out

    Select a Format:
  • Book
  • eBook

Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic

Written by Emily JenkinsAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Emily Jenkins
Illustrated by Paul O. ZelinskyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Paul O. Zelinsky


List Price: $6.99


On Sale: December 18, 2008
Pages: 144 | ISBN: 978-0-307-56073-5
Published by : Schwartz & Wade RH Childrens Books
Toys Go Out Cover

Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Toys Go Out
  • Email this page - Toys Go Out
  • Print this page - Toys Go Out


Here is the first book in the highly acclaimed Toys trilogy, which is followed by the companion books Toy Dance Party and Toys Come Home. These six linked stories from Emily Jenkins, and illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner Paul O. Zelinsky, showcase the unforgettable adventures—and misadventures—of 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.

A 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.


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.

From the Hardcover edition.
Paul O. Zelinsky

About Paul O. Zelinsky

Paul O. Zelinsky - Toys Go Out
"It's a little surprising to me, when I think back over my childhood in suburban Chicago, and recall the things I liked and the things I did, that I never considered the possibility of becoming a book illustrator. During my elementary school years I was always collaborating with classmates to create imaginary worlds and the stories to take place in them and putting it all down in pictures.

"In the third grade I drew bestiaries of ridiculous animals, their habits and habitats; in fifth grade my best friend and I, working through the mail, developed an island world of two competing countries. I think they were called Igglebeania and Squigglebeania (I know we never did agree about the spelling), and they teemed with colorful characters and important incidents. They now, like Atlantis, are lost to the world. At fourteen we wrote a novel about a monkey astronaut who saves the world from encroaching gorillas. Of course I made the pictures, and my friend's father took it on himself to send our opus out to real publishers for their consideration. It was with no small shock that several years ago, as I was leafing through my friend's scrapbook, I lit on a polite rejection letter from a publisher who was now a friend and with whom I had just published two books!

"The earliest books that were important to me were, as far as I was concerned, not written or illustrated by anybody -- they just appeared in the library or in my room. The Color Kittens and The Tawny Scrawny Lion and many others that I can and can't remember filled my young childhood. It's the pictures that I remember, for the most part.

"Some years later I had book heroes: William Pene du Bois and Robert Lawson were the most lasting. I especially loved The Twenty-One Balloons and The Fantastic Flight. It didn't occur to me that these writers were real people living in houses somewhere and doing real things.

"Then a few years ago when I was driving in Connecticut with some friends they happened to mention that Robert Lawson had lived nearby. Inside my head, I jumped. Robert Lawson lived in a real place? In this world? Not having thought about it since my childhood, it seems I still harbored the notion that the man was just a paragraph on a book jacket flap. Now I guess that I, too, am taking a place on the back flap of book jackets. What the children reading my books will make me out to be, if anything, I can't guess. But it really doesn't matter: it's not the authors they should remember, it's the books. (Or maybe, for the most part the pictures!)"

Known for his versatility, Mr. Zelinsky does not feel his work represents a specific style. "I want the pictures to speak in the same voice as the words. This desire has led me to try various kinds of drawings in different books. I have used quite a wide stretch of styles, and I'm fortunate to have been asked to illustrate such a range of stories."

Paul Zelinsky was born in Evanston, Illinois. He attended Yale University, where he took a course with Maurice Sendak, which later inspired him to pursue a career in children's books. Afterwards he received a graduate degree in painting from Tyler School of Art, in Philadelphia and Rome. Paul Zelinsky lives in New York with his wife, Deborah, and the younger of their two daughters.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

Praise | Awards


“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


WINNER 2006 Parents' Choice Silver Honor Book
WINNER 2007 ALA Notable Children's Book
WINNER 2008 Texas Bluebonnet Award
NOMINEE Kentucky Bluegrass Award
NOMINEE Rhode Island Children's Book Award
NOMINEE Oklahoma Sequoyah Children's Book Award
NOMINEE Kansas William White Award
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide


Meet Lumphy, Stingray, and Plastic!

Toys coming alive? It is every child’s dream, but a reality for the Little Girl whose toys sing, dance, and play while no one is looking. Their antics around the house often get them into trouble, but they are quick to come to the rescue of their friends. They test their bravery, learn about forgiveness, and show unwavering love for the Little Girl. Follow along as these small toys create big adventures.

Grades 1—5


Emily Jenkins is the author of numerous highly acclaimed books for children. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Paul O. Zelinsky’s retelling of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel received the 1998 Caldecott Medal. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Chapter 1
In the Backpack, Where It Is Very Dark
It is dark in the Little Girl’s backpack. Very dark. Lumphy, StingRay, and Plastic are scared. Where are they going? Their imaginations are wandering, and they are terrified of the possibilities. The veterinarian, the zoo, the garbage dump? The toys are pleasantly surprised to learn that the Little Girl has brought them to school for Show and Tell. She must really love them! The backpack ride home just doesn’t seem as scary anymore.
For Discussion
Talk about a time when you were scared. Where were you? What was going on around you? How did the situation end?
Class Activity
Making Predictions—
Create new endings to the backpack adventure. Lumphy, StingRay, and Plastic are cramped in the dark backpack. Where are they going? The backpack thumps down with a bang, the zipper opens slowly and . . . Have students finish the story in their writing journal, and then ask them to read their adventures aloud to the class.

Chapter 2
The Serious Problem of Plastic-ness
Plastic takes books very seriously, and spends some time reading one of the Little Girl’s schoolbooks about animals. She reads all about stingrays, buffaloes, sheep, and mice, but she can’t seem to find any pictures that look like her. Feeling very confused about her identity, she searches the dictionary for help. This only tells her what plastic is used for. TukTuk, the yellow bath towel, comes to her rescue by revealing exactly what she is. A round, red, bouncy rubber ball!
For Discussion
Describe yourself using physical characteristics. Do you resemble others in your family?
Class Activity
Pass out handheld mirrors to each student. Ask them to look closely at themselves in the mirror. Guide them through looking at the shape of their eyes, the curve of their chin, the color of their hair, etc. Then have them draw exactly what they see. When they are finished with their portraits, post all of them on the board and ask the students to identify which drawing belongs to whom.

Chapter 3
The Terrifying Bigness of the Washing Machine
Lumphy finds himself covered in greasy peanut butter. This means only one thing—that he will be sent to the washing machine in the dark, dirty basement. To avoid this fate, Lumphy hides in the Little Girl’s closet. The Little Girl searches for him for days with no luck. Lumphy hates to see her cry, and makes the decision to come out of hiding and face his fears. Luckily, Frank the washing machine is very friendly and helps Lumphy through his spin cycle with a little song and dance.
For Discussion
Talk about a time when you had to face your fears. What were you afraid of and how did you conquer that fear? Did anyone help you make it through? Explain that this is a very brave thing to do, and that students should feel proud of their accomplishment.
Class Activity
Have students make medals in honor of the time when they faced their fears. Their names should be on one side, and a description of what they did should be on the other side. Hang the medals from ribbons so that students can wear them with pride!

Chapter 4
The Possible Shark
Plastic is on her way to the beach with the Little Girl, and StingRay is left at home feeling very jealous. Just because Plastic can float in the ocean doesn’t mean that she is more fun to play with. Yet, they both find themselves in deep trouble. Plastic is tossed into the ocean and attacked by a “shark,” while StingRay is determined to float but is close to drowning in the bathtub. After similar ordeals, StingRay and Plastic reconcile their differences and remain good friends.
For Discussion
Why does Plastic float but StingRay sinks? What is different about their physical properties?
Class Activity
Conduct an experiment that compares things that float with things that sink. Gather items that will either float or sink and present them to the class. Ask them to make predictions of what will happen when each item is placed in water. Then test each item and have students compare the results to their predictions.

Chapter 5
How Lumphy Got on the Big High Bed and Lost Something Rather Good-Looking
Lumphy longs to sleep on the big high bed with the Little Girl. So much so that he recruits StingRay to send subliminal messages to her in her sleep. It worked! But sleeping with the Little Girl isn’t all that Lumphy thought it would be. Each night, he jumps off the bed to play on the floor with the other toys. The clever Little Girl decides to tie Lumphy’s tail to the bedpost so that he won’t “fall” off the bed anymore. This leads to the loss of Lumphy’s tail . . . and no more nights on the bed.
For Discussion
What kinds of things do you do every night before you go to bed?
Class Activity
Have students think about their bedtime rituals. Ask them to write these things on slips of paper, one ritual on each piece. Then have them put these slips of paper in the order in which they take place at night. For the final copy, write these rituals in numerical order under the title “Goodnight, (student’s name).”

Chapter 6
It Is Difficult to Find the Right Birthday Present
It is the Little Girl’s birthday and she is having a party with all of her favorite toys. But what are the toys going to give her as a present? They don’t have any money, so they must find the right present somewhere around the house. They look through the living room, the basement, and the closets but cannot come to a decision of what she would love the most. The answer is right in front of them—she loves them the most! They wrap themselves and wait for the Little Girl to open them.
For Discussion
What is the best birthday present you have ever received?
Class Activity
Place the names of all students in a bowl. Ask each one to pick the name of a classmate, without revealing who they selected. Give students time to consider their chosen friend—their likes, hobbies, interests, etc. Then give students time to search the classroom for an object that matches those hobbies and interests. They can create a card for their friend that explains why they chose that object. Have each student present their “gift” to their friend in front of the class.


Final Projects
Explain the concept of personification—assigning human traits to an animal or object. Divide students into three groups. Assign each group to one of the main characters of the stories—StingRay, Lumphy, and Plastic. Ask students to create a character map that describes the physical features and personality traits of that character. They should be as specific as possible, citing examples from the story that support each trait. Then ask students to create their own personified toy. They should choose a type of toy and give it a name. Place this information on a blank character map. Have students fill in the new character map with their toy’s physical characteristics and personality traits. Be sure they draw a picture of what their toy looks like. To expand on this activity, have students write a story about the adventures of their toy!

Character Development
Throughout these books, we are able to follow the development of several characters, including the Little Girl. We watch the characters display numerous behaviors, some of which are very important in leading a positive and productive life. Others are negative traits that the characters learn to conquer and resolve. Some of the traits highlighted in these books are: facing fears, determination, greediness, giving, thoughtfulness, bravery, friendship, being judgmental, being helpful, caring, and forgiveness. Have students find examples of these in their books and discuss the situations as a class. Then pair students together and assign them to a trait. Ask them to think of a scenario that would demonstrate their trait. They can act it out in front of the class, and have their classmates determine which trait they are exhibiting.

Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party are filled with onomatopoeias! Discuss the definition of onomatopoeia—a word that imitates the sounds associated with an object or action. Brainstorm examples together such as zoom, zip, boom, etc. Then send your students on an onomatopoeia scavenger hunt. Each student should look through their book and find as many onomatopoeias as they can, recording them on piece of paper. Ask students to read the words they found aloud and award a prize to the one who found the most!

Take your students on a journey through the animal kingdom. Collect nonfiction books from the library on stingrays, buffaloes, mice, sheep, and sharks. Pass them out to your students and give them some time to explore the information. Ask them to record three things that they learned about these animals. Now have your students choose their favorite animal. Ask them to use credible Web sites to gather information about that animal such as physical characteristics, habitat, diet, offspring, and protection against predators. They should print out pictures as well as informational passages. Students can compile this information on a display board to show off all they have learned.


An ALA Notable Book
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year


* “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


These books are a collection of linked stories that entwine the lives of the Little Girl and her bedroom toys. Take your students on a journey to learn about friendship, facing fears, and how to be part of a group. Discussion questions lead to class activities that explore character traits, literary tools, and reading comprehension strategies. By allowing your students to share in the adventures, you will see them engage in these stories like true readers!

Download a PDF of the Teacher's Guide
Emily Jenkins

Emily Jenkins Events>

Emily Jenkins - Toys Go Out
18 W 18TH ST
NEW YORK, NY 10011-4607
Map It

Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: