Review of They Threw Us Away

They Threw Us Away [The Teddies Saga]
by Daniel Kraus; illus. by Rovina Cai
Intermediate    Holt    256 pp.    g
9/20    978-1-250-22440-8    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-250-22441-5    $9.99

Buddy the teddy bear wakes up in a garbage dump: the toy store that’s been his home has thrown him away. Together with a band of other neglected and discarded sentient teddies, Buddy sets out on a quest to find a home with a loving child who will give him the coveted hug that leads to “forever sleep” (yes, this is a very dark story). It’s not a straight path to safety, though, because danger lurks around every corner of the dump, and then the wider world, whether it be hungry seagulls, relentless bulldozers, busy roads, or menacing store managers. From the teddies’ perspective, suburbia is a treacherous landscape, and these unlikely adventurers must learn how to be courageous and intrepid as they try to save themselves. Buddy and his friends (the tough Sunny, the pretentious Reginald, the naively optimistic Sugar, etc.) are clearly delineated from one another, with individual personalities and backstories, and most are damaged in some way, either physically or emotionally. An interesting layer of teddy-bear legend is provided by the origin story of Proto and the Originals. Plenty of unanswered questions and forward momentum will sustain a second installment in the series, though the conclusion of this first book gives the teddies a satisfying, if mysterious, reprieve from their arduous odyssey. A story in the tradition of Hoban’s The Mouse and His Child and Martin and Godwin’s The Doll People.

From the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Berman

Sarah Berman is a middle school special education assistant. She attended the University of St. Andrews, where she studied literature and wrote a dissertation about violence in children's fiction. 

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