Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Review: Toy Mountain by Stef Gemmill

Today's review fits in great to the after Christmas season and for those, who received more than enough new toys and gadgets. I'll admit, it wasn't the message which caught my attention, but rather, the amazing cover (I'm such a softie for great covers!). I love the whimsical constructions and color. 

Let's find out if the inside is as fun as the outside! 

by Stef Gemmill
Illustrated by Katharine Hall
EK Books
 Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

Sam is tired of his toys. Why would he want his Grandma’s old trainset and teddy when there’s a toy factory high up in the clouds that makes rumbly red toys, grumbly green toys and so much more? In this important story about reducing waste and taking responsibility for the environment, Sam is about to find out.

Toy Mountain is a quirky story about 5-year-old Sam’s chance to become a toy tester for the Tiny Hands Toy factory. After Sam signs up for his exciting new task, he quickly accumulates a pile of plastic, clunky toys, discarding the well-loved toys handed down to him from his Grandma. But one by one and plonk! by plonk!, his shiny new toys start to break. Soon enough, Sam has a mountain of broken toys that just won’t stop growing!

This colourful and whimsically illustrated story highlights the waste that results from ‘consumer culture’, and the value of looking after our belongings. Inspired by the author’s childhood of hand-me-down toys, it empowers children to take sustainability into their own hands through their toy purchases. This is a vitally important message in a world where we generate 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic each year, 79% of which goes into landfill.

Children and adults alike will find themselves cheering Sam along as he rescues his treasured old toys from being lost under a growing mound of broken plastic, and realizes why they’re so special after all.



These pages show a kid's dream come true in a fun read, which brings along an easy to understand, and yet, not often seen message.

Sam is tired of playing with the same, old toys and has no interest in the ones his grandma gives him, since they are so aged. When she informs him that he's going to test toys for a huge toy manufacture, it is a dream come true. Every day, there's a new delivery at the door with the latest toys for him to play with. Everything is great, at first, but as more and more toys arrive, he realizes how cheap and meaningless they are. The pile grows and grows, but many break or are just ridiculous.

Sam's lack of interest in the old toys is easy for young listeners to sympathize with, especially since there are so many amazing new toys presented every day. Even I had to smile when Sam is offered a position as a toy tester. What kid wouldn't dream of that? It's a fun story, which hits many readers in a spot they understand.

The illustrations are well done and give young listeners something to look at time and again, especially as the toy pile grows and grows. The text is easy to read and so positioned to make this a good read-aloud as well. It fits the intended age group nicely.

Old toys have a special place, not only thanks to their quality, but they carry the time and love they've be brought through. This specialness comes through even the tallest pile of plastic beeps and buzzes. The message comes in mostly smoothly with a bit of a rush at the end, but then, this makes sure that more impatient listeners aren't lost as well. It's a well enough done read with a message not often visited but still, important.

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