Mark Powers (text), Tim Wesson (illus.), Spy Toys, Bloomsbury/Allen & Unwin, Feb 2017, 224pp., $12.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781408870860
Toy Story meets Mission Impossible in Spy Toys, the first book in a new action-packed series from Bloomsbury. Dan is a Snugaliffic Cuddlestar Teddy Bear with a faulty snuggle chip that makes him crush anything he hugs. Arabella is a Loadsasmiles Sunshine Doll with anger management issues who hates kids. And Flax is a Custom-made Police Robot Rabbit on the hunt for an evil, genetically-engineered elephant, Rusty Flumptrunk. When these three misfits are hired by Auntie Roz to protect the Prime Minister’s son, nothing goes as planned. But when Dan and Sam form a bond of friendship, nothing will stop the Spy Toys from rescuing their missing friend.
From avoiding toy-eating mechanical poodles in Snaztaular Ultrafun’s reject pile to defusing a mayonnaise bomb and stealing ice cream from a strongly guarded kitchen, Spy Toys brings a high level of adventure to young readers. Often, the toys simply have to defend themselves against unruly children which seems to be the highest level of danger. For Dan, Arabella and Flax, it’s rescue the prime minister’s son from kidnappers or be scrapped, so the stakes couldn’t be higher in the first instalment of Spy Toys.
Fast-paced and gripping, Spy Toys offers young readers aged 7 – 9 a big dose of adult-like, action movie antics. However, with some creepy characters (weight-lifter triplets and a half-human, half elephant villain), some strong name calling and loads of toy-focused violence, this book could prove a bit disturbing to sensitive readers. Also, parents of children with food allergies might be wary of how peanuts are used as a weapon against an allergy-prone evil elephant.
Spy Toys 2 is due for release in July 2017 and a free Spy Toys app is available for download.