#SpooktasticReads They Threw Us Away by Daniel Kraus

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

They Threw Us Away by Daniel Kraus

Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Horror, Middle Grade

Series: Book 1 of The Teddies Saga

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. BYR (September 15, 2020)

Length: 256 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Described as equal parts Toy Story and Lord of the Flies, They Threw Us Away is the first book of a middle grade trilogy about a group of teddy bears who wake up lost and confused in a garbage dump, unsure why they’ve been discarded. Now if that isn’t the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever read, I don’t know what is! Our main teddy Buddy is the first to come to awaken, and finding himself out of his box, his initial thought is that he’d been claimed by a child—a goal that every Furrington brand bear aspires to. But very quickly, he realizes that cannot be the case, or else he would have entered Forever Sleep, the inanimate peaceful state teddies are said to fall eternally into the first time they are hugged by a kid who loves them.

So no, Buddy hasn’t found himself an owner. He’s not even at the toy store anymore. Around him, all he can see is trash, mountains and mountains of it, and among the piles of greasy pizza boxes and old rusted pots are other Furrington teddies, still brand new in their packaging, just waking up now as well. First there’s Sunny, the feisty yellow bear who believes it’s a “Teddy’s Duty” for them to help each other. Next is Horace, the green scaredy-bear. Then there’s Sugar, the pink teddy who was sadly damaged in her box, giving her a childlike demeanor, though she sure doesn’t let it get her down. And finally, there’s Reginald, the grey bear who had been sitting on the store shelves the longest, and those extra years have made him the smartest teddy who knows the most.

That said, even Reginald doesn’t know why the Furringtons have been unceremoniously dumped, but to a one, they agree they must not stop in their search for a child of their own. First though, they’ll need to flee the junkyard filled with horrors like monstrous dozers, or the merciless flocks of trash gulls ready to peck apart anything that moves. Even if they manage to escape, the teddies will need to endure hardships they have never faced before, as together they try to solve the mystery of why they’ve been throw away, all the while chasing the dream of Forever Sleep.

I confess I don’t read much MG, but when They Threw Us Away was pitched to me, I saw Daniel Kraus’ name and immediately accepted. I’ve read and enjoyed a few of his books, though they were either Adult or YA, and I was curious to see how he would handle a children’s novel, especially one with such a, shall we say, ah, grim premise? After all, Kraus made his name with a lot of his horror projects, and some of those talents have definitely spilled over in this one too. Don’t let the cute little teddies on the cover fool you; despite the intended age group, this story packs a pretty intense punch with content that can potentially disturb young readers.

What kind of content am I talking about? Well, take the scenes of the teddies getting their stuffing brutally torn out by vicious birds, for example, or of them falling into a dumpster full of disembodied teddy parts—the heads and limbs of their former comrades, gah! Bear in mind (sorry, I just couldn’t help myself), Kraus spends a considerable amount of time anthropomorphizing the totally adorable Furringtons, establishing them as living, breathing characters with individual personalities, values, and behaviors. Not surprisingly, it’s like a knife in the gut when bad things happen to them, and I can see how some of the stuff here can get a little rough and quease-inducing for more sensitive readers, no matter the age.

Concurrently though, the language in the book makes it clear this can be nothing else but a MG novel. The style is childish, clearly written for kids in the 8-12 range. Adult readers might grow frustrated with the simplistic storytelling or the cutesy-wootsy speak of the teddies. At times, this gave the book an air of confusion, with the sunny saccharine dialogue clashing horribly with some of the story’s darker macabre themes.

Still, in the end I enjoyed the book, even with its loopy ups and dumpy downs. Daniel Kraus has started something very special and interesting here in They Threw Us Away, and with my curiosity piqued over the mystery of why someone would want to destroy the hapless Furringtons, I’m definitely open to reading more!

17 Comments on “#SpooktasticReads They Threw Us Away by Daniel Kraus”

    • It’s for middle graders, which I believe is 8 to 12, but I would probably put the themes here as more appropriate for the higher end of that, like 10-12. Although it would definitely depend on the individuall kid. Like, my 8 year old is mature enough to read this, but she was not really interested and the language was too “baby-ish” for her.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This has me thinking back to the books I read at that age, wondering how they’d read now that I’m a bit older. I keep thinking I may try rereading Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

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  2. As a child who much preferred stuffed animals over dolls (go figure huh?) then this one definitely speaks to me. I will be reading it for sure!

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  3. I feel like middle grade horror must be pretty unique trying to balance the scare for a younger audience. Although I do remember reading the first Cirque de Freak book and I thought that one did a pretty good job. Great review!

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  4. Pingback: Bookshelf Roundup 10/31/20: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

  5. It sounds like this is a book for MG’s but written also to appeal in some ways to adults. Sounds very much like Toy Story to me but with perhaps a little more horror.
    Lynn 😀

    Like

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