Last week I published My Top 10 List of Books, Poems and Film that Feature Games. In other words, books that used a game play or game play as an essential element in moving the plot forward.
In this posting, I want to focus on toys. As with games, I found that there are a number of books that use toys as an essential plot element. Here they are listed them in alphabetical order:
A Christmas Story – Jean Shepard
This wonderful movie, based upon the short stories of Jean Shepard, tells the story of Ralphie Parker and his hot pursuit of a Red Ryder Bee Bee gun. All of us can identify with Ralphie’s lust for the forbidden and the comedy that ensues in the movie is both hilarious and warm.
Citizen Kane – Orson Welles
Considered by most critics and fans to be the greatest movie ever made, the story uses a sled named Rosebud as the core of a mystery that reveals only at movie’s end.
Pinocchio – Carlo Collodio
Thanks to the Walt Disney Company, we are all very aware of the puppet that is turned into a boy. The book, written in the 1880’s is, however, a much darker tale. Yes, there is a cricket with a conscience but Pinocchio kills him pretty early in the story.
The Great Santini – Pat Conroy
The Great Santini uses a basketball game between an overbearing father and his coming of age son to tell the story of life in a Marine family which the father runs like a military unit.
The last Mimzy – Lewis Padgett
You may have seen the movie but better to read this very clever and a little unnerving science fiction story. The books tell the story of two young children who happen upon a box of toys from the future. They turn out to be educational toys and the results that follow are fascinating.
The Nightingale – Hans Christian Andersen
Written by the famed Danish story teller, the Nightingale tells the story of a Chinese Emperor who prefers the music of a bejeweled mechanical bird to a real one. Eventually the mechanical bird breaks and it is only the music of a real Nightingale that brings him back to life.
The Nutcracker – E.T.A. Hoffman and Pyotr Ilyich Tshaikovsky
Everyone is familiar with the ballet by Tchaikovsky but not as many have read the story by E.T.A. Hoffman upon which it was written. The Hoffman story, called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, is set around a mechanical castle, its inhabitants and a nutcracker that come to life. The ensuing battle between dolls and mice makes for great fantasy and an enduring story.
The Red Balloon – Albert Lamorisse
This short film uses almost no dialogue to tell the wonderful story of a sentient balloon with a “mind of its own.”
The Toys of Peace – Saki
Saki, the great early 20th century short story writer, gives us a story about a mother who insists that her children only be given “toys of peace.”
Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
Everyone knows the story of the little boy and his teddy bear. Now morphed into a merchandising empire, Winnie the Pooh and his friends have had numerous adventurers of which the author, A. A. Milne, never dreamed.
That’s my list. What’s on yours?