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Traction Man Is Here! (Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards (Awards)) Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 12, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2–This imaginative and very funny romp through the fantasy play of a young boy features his newly acquired action figure. Square-jawed and equipped with combat boots, scuba gear, space suit, and camouflage, Traction Man overcomes evil pillows, dastardly brooms, a poisonous dishcloth, and a wicked spade. But he and his little scrub-brush pet seem to be no match for Granny, who presents the action figure with a nerdy knitted green romper suit and bonnet. The evil-doers laugh at his silly get-up until Scrubbing Brush unravels the yarn to help Traction Man save a clutch of hapless spoons and he is once more the heroic figure. The angular, full-color art sweeps across the pages and perfectly animates the antics of Traction Man and his enemies. Grey has a way of exactly catching the nuances of a child's ability to turn even the most common object into a friend or looming foe in the never-ending battle between good and evil. This fresh, funny hero and Grey's celebration of a child's imagination definitely have traction.– Marge Loch-Wouters, Menasha's Public Library, WI
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From Booklist

PreS-Gr. 2. Opening a present on Christmas morning, a boy finds the latest Traction Man action figure, who takes on an adventurous life of his own: diving into the soapy, underwater world of the kitchen sink; escaping the "Poisonous Dishcloth"; and adopting a "brave little scrubbing brush" as his pet. Later, Granny gives Traction Man a present: a hand-knitted green suit, complete with tie-on knit cap. Despite his obvious humiliation, Traction Man undertakes another rescue mission and triumphs once again. Though children's toys have come to life in many picture books, they are more typically soft toys and the stories usually veer toward sentimentality rather than adventure. Brightened with colorful washes and replete with patterns, the detailed illustrations show Traction Man in action, sometimes stiffly doll-like, sometimes more expressive and human, but always worth watching. Setting up the child as the creator of Traction Man's secondary world and dramatizing his narrative play, Grey portrays with precision and wit the sort of inventive thinking that toys can inspire in children. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Series: Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; 2nd Print edition (April 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375831916
  • ASIN: B002LITSI4
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.4 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,751,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It's funny, but I think we can say that the picture-book-superhero-genre is still in its infancy. There's, "Kapow", of course and "The Adventures of Sparrowboy", but these are stories of ordinary kids being super. Far more difficult, in a way, is a story about an action figure. Now there is no lack of stories where toys take on a life of their own when their owners aren't around. With, "Traction Man Is Here", however, author Mini Grey turns this conceit on its head. The hero of this book may be an action figure like Buzz Lightyear (though he's an entirely different type of toy) but any adventures you read about in this book are from the head of the boy moving Traction Man about. You may not see the kids' hands and Traction Man may appear to move on his own accord, but there is little doubt who the real brains behind the operation is. It makes, oddly enough, for thrilling reading.

A boy writes a note to Santa requesting another Traction Man since his old one was involved in what is simply referred to as, "the Terrible Parachute Accident". Santa may not be aware of the boy's request, but his parents are certainly on the ball because Christmas Day brings a brand new bright and shiny Traction Man (complete with Dazzle-Painted Battler Pants). Thus begin our hero's adventures. Each time he appears, his new outfit is lovingly described (as in the sentence, "Traction Man is crawling through the overgrown shrubbery near the Pond, wearing Jungle Pants, Camouflage Vest and Sweaty Bandanna"). This is all well and good up until the moment the family goes to knit-crazy Granny's. Traction Man receives an all-in-one knitted green romper suit and matches bonnet. It's adorable and completely inappropriate for his line of work.
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Format: Hardcover
I opened this book in the 'store, flipped to a page and saw an action figure standing on the table (a no-no in my house) before a plate.

The text read, "Traction man is guarding some toast." Then I noted that the toast had eyes and mouth set in somewhat querulous look. I laughed aloud and raced to buy this.

My 3.5 year old carried this about for days, after.

Traction man is original, clever, snarky (read the label on the hoopos that become his medal at the end of the book) and gentle. It's exquisite. Buy several copies, you'll be handing it out at birthday parties for years.
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Format: Hardcover
This spoof of superhero comics and their ubiquitous action figures is so darn funny it's impossible to get through a first reading without pausing to hold your ribs. But it has a Shrek problem: its best lines zoom straight over kids' heads and target Mom and Dad.

This is welcome news if you're weary of countless nights re-reading Pooh or Seuss ad nauseum. But it's tough to explain to a toddler why the sight of a foot-tall plastic toy diving in a sink for the Lost Wreck of the Sieve provokes such snorts and guffaws.

Traction Man's a Christmas gift to an unnamed boy, whose imagination turns him loose on unsuspecting household objects. But both meet their match with Granny, who knits the doll a puke-green coverall that fairly screams "dork." Picture the matching bonnet and it's easy to summon similar mortifying moments from your own childhood.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My children really enjoy these books and they have become a frequent gift to any kids who like superheroes. They are witty, creative, and have excellent vocabulary. The humor is appropriate for young children but adults will really appreciate it especially, it is a nice break from reading underdeveloped and more commercial hero stories.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mini Grey is a wonder! She has the voice of the playing child perfectly in the Traction Man books! I love these books,my little boy loves these books, and the kids I teach in my School Library love these books. Well done, Mini, and keep writing!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although my boys didn't get the underlying GI Joe nature of a "Traction Man" toy, they enjoyed the adventure and imagination the boy in this story had with his toy. Great book and lots of laughs with the story line. The pictures are interesting and we seem to find new things in the backgrounds to giggle about every time we read it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My children, boys ages 6 and 7, found this book at the library and it was an instant hit. In fact, the whole family loved it so much I bought the other books in the series. They were funny as well, but the original is our favorite.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I only buy books for my grandchildren after I have read them. I got this book from the library and just loved it. It is very British culturally, so my husband (who is British) loved it. My friends loved it and discussed it as if it was an adult book club selection. My daughters distinctly remember homemade gifts that weren't exactly right, and thought the depiction here was hilarious (and the recipient very gracious). Finally bought all three Traction Man books for my five-year-old grandson (by now there was a waiting list for the library copies). He is allowed to bring only favorite books for school show-and-tell. All three went to school with him the next day!
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