An Almost Indestructible Toy – Perfect Picture Book Friday

What jumps into your mind when I say Slinky?

Maybe you’re zipping back to your childhood, watching the steel coils walk, as if by magic, down your hall steps. And maybe the jingle from the television commercial is dancing in your head. For those of you who would care to take a jaunt down memory lane, here’s the video.

Warning: The urge to sing along is great. 

Now let’s jump forward to the year 2010. I’m no longer a child, I’m married, have a daughter, and can’t wait to give her a Slinky for her birthday.

I was positively beaming as I placed the box in her little hands. “You are going to LOVE this toy, Sweetie! I had one just like it when I was your age.”

I was celebrating a proud moment of parental success. I had finally found a toy my daughter could amuse herself with for more than ten minutes. I planned to claim those blessed minutes to read.  I pictured my daughter giggling as she sent her Slinky down the stairs again and again and again. I grabbed my book, snuggled into the sofa cushions, but never heard giggling. For that matter, I never heard that familiar slinkity springy sound of coils. Nothing.

“Sweetie?” I called to her. “Aren’t you having fun with your new toy?”

“Ummm… Mommy?” A little voice answered. “This toy doesn’t work. I think it’s dead.”

“Toys don’t die, honey.” (I was so naive.) “You just start at the top of the stairs, and send it down to the bottom.”

“Ummm…Mommy? It can’t do that anymore,” she said.

I set down my book.

My daughter sat on the stairs,knees pulled up, beaming at her latest masterpiece. The beautiful Slinky that offered children years of playtime fun, that mesmerized and was a joy to behold with its fluid motion was indeed dead. Somehow, my daughter had put that poor, defenseless toy into the stress test of the century. With a force she had never demonstrated previously, she had spread those tight, once thought indestructible, coils FAR apart and tied her beautiful Slinky into a bizarre knot around the banister railing. That Slinky, along with three pet mice, two goldfish (both named Goldie), and a tree frog, are buried in our back yard.

This brings me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF) review.

Title – The Marvelous Thing That Came From A Spring

Written and illustrated by – Gilbert Ford

Published by – Atheneum Books for Young Readers -2016

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics/Theme –  determination and persistence and history of a retro toy.

Opening –  Richard James was a dreamer. But in 1943 the United Sates was at war. Richard had to support his country and his family, so he worked as an engineer for the United States Navy in a shipyard in Philadelphia. His assignment was to invent a device that would keep fragile ship equipment from vibrating in choppy seas.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE.  With magnificent dioramic illustrations, Gilbert Ford captures the joy, creativity, and determination behind the invention of an iconic, one-of-a-kind toy: the Slinky!

One day, a spring fell from the desk of Richard James, an engineer and a dreamer. Its coils took a walk…and so did Richard’s imagination. He knew right away that he had stumbled onto something marvelous.

With the help of his wife, Betty, Richard took this ordinary spring and turned it into a plaything. But it wasn’t just any old trinket—it was a Slinky, and it would become one of the most popular toys in American history.

Why do I like this book? The slinky seems like a simple toy, but behind its simplicity lies a fascinating history. Frankly, I was surprised at how hard a time Richard James, the inventor of the Slinky, had getting stores to stock this marvelous invention. I would have thought that seeing that baby in action would have drawn a crowd of clamoring, money-waving shoppers. So, what do you get when you team a fascinating story with perfectly suitable, retro illustrations? You have a super great book, of course.  See what I mean?
Gilbert Ford shares a school visit for his Slinky book HERE.

Find more “Perfect Picture Book Friday” reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.

12 thoughts on “An Almost Indestructible Toy – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. I loved this book, too, though my Slinky memories are closer to your daughter’s experience than the fun depicted in the illustrations.


  2. I’ll have to share your comment with my daughter. For a while there, she thought she was the only child in the world to destroy a Slinky. Frankly, I didn’t know those steel coils could bend in the opposite direction. What I found tied to my banister somewhat resembled a piece of strange, modern art.


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