Red Ted and the Lost Things by Michael Rosen

38815468Lynn: A fat little red teddy bear is left behind on a train by his beloved Stevie who, says Red Ted, “loves me as much as she loves cheese.” A man in a hat places Red Ted on a shelf in a room housing other lost things, including a dejected crocodile who has been there so long he has forgotten who lost him. Joel Stewart uses a wonderful muted palette that draws the reader’s eye directly to the brightly colored toys. A two page spread depicting the vast crammed lost-and-found room highlights Red Ted’s dilemma. But Red Ted is a brave and determined bear. He is also a problem solver so he and Crocodile, aided by a cheese-loving cat, eventually find their way to Stevie’s doorstep. When Red Ted knocks, there is no one there. Even brave little teddy bears can have moments of despair and Stewart’s depiction of the three sorrowful travelers against a white background is truly poignant. Just in time, Stevie and her mother come around the corner and all is well.

The theme of lost toys is a common one in books for young children because it is an issue most children readily understand. Red Ted and the Lost Things (Candlewick 2009) stands out in that crowd with its exceptional format, exquisite pacing and especially its sweet story -completely child-centered yet subtle. I read this to our focus group right before the holidays and even with the enticement of new toys, the boys have asked for this book several times. They delighted in the encounter with the “huge, enormous giant of a dog” who is actually a dachshund and they sighed happily at the final pages proving that many times Teddy Bears can still win – even with rambunctious 6-year-old boys.

Cindy: “I’m a a cat, and I do as I please. I’m a cat , and I love cheese!” I adore books that make me laugh and cry, although I rarely find that combination in picture books. When Red Ted is in full despair and starts to cry, he looks so very sad all hunched over that I was ready to cry with him. A few pages later when the crocodile is scaring the great big dog with his great big teeth (which appear to be buttons), I was cracking up. This is a story that understands children and their fears, as Lynn explained much more eloquently. I will just add that Joel Stewart’s graphic novel storytelling elements will be good training for future readers of that format. And, like any good graphic novel, or picture book, this is a book that depends on the illustrations for much of its story. Corduroy, Knuffle Bunny, and other lost cherished literary toys, you’ve got fine company in Red Ted.

Lynn again: On a personal note – my family is full of animal lovers so we particularly liked the cat in the story who sings a song, loves cheese and goes her own way. We had to put our much-loved old cat to sleep in November. Two kittens have now joined our household, wreaking havoc and taking us all prisoner. So far the only interest they’ve shown in books is to try to eat the corners but I have hope for a more scholarly future. They are named for two literary lions, William Shakespeare and F. Scott Fitzgerald and that may inspire them. Here is a picture of Fitz and Will.kittensblanket

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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