China Toy Fair


COMMENTARY: Friendly Monsters Come to Life with The Horndribbles

imageAdventures of the Horndribbles: Zapp and the Oogah-Oogah Nut, by Herbert Joel and published by Explorers’ Playground Inc., is the tale of four creature friends that work together to save one of their own when he finds himself in potential danger. The Horndribbles live on—you guessed it—Horndribble Island, a fantastical land with lakes, forests, mountains, and beaches with names such as “Waka Forest,” “Rumblethump,” “Pinball Rapids,” “Willy Nilly Waterway,” “Namby Pamby Creek,” and “Gadzooks Glacier Range,” just to name a few.

My favorite part of the book is the map of Horndribble Island, printed on the inside front cover. It reminds me very much of one of my favorite things I did in my notebooks back in the day—draw a scribble shape, then make a fantasy land map out of it. I was actually really surprised to see this map, as it hit so close to home. The illustration style is whimsical and clean, with a screen-print effect. Reading the creative names of the different elements of the island is half the fun!

In Zapp and the Oogah-Oogah Nut, Zapp jumps into the creek after a tasty-looking nut floats by. Knowing Zapp isn’t the best swimmer, his friend Hux rushes to save him before he goes over Great Gumbler Falls, never to be seen again. From shore, Mosby and Meeks try in vain to throw lifelines to their friends, only to discover that the water is only waist-deep. The moral of the story: “Good friends should always stick together and help each other out!”

It’s a cute short story, and it’s even cuter with props. Horndribble plush look just like the characters in the story. They’re made of soft material, and I like that there’s some weight to them. Their big eyes and stark white claws are striking, and their fun, unconventional shapes are a refreshing divergence from the norm. Mosby features long, dark fur and four thick round feet, and stands out with her different texture. She also has green horns, eyes, and no other facial features–which makes her special in her very own way. Hux, Meeks, and Zapp are crafted in brighter colors, and adorned with tails, horns, and funky fins that are fun to look at and play with.

The Horndribbles are a fun new cast of characters, with more books to come.

For more commentary from Christine, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!