Kids story about a starving family of toymakers who must turn to their creations to survive. Written by Harris Tobias
Once there was a toymaker who lived with his family in a cottage in the mountains outside of Paducah, Kentucky. Now this toymaker made beautiful toys and sold them in his shop. But business was not very good and so the toymaker was very poor and had a difficult time keeping his family fed. There was never enough food for his three children, the toymaker and his wife. But the children were not unhappy for, after all, they had the most beautiful toys to play with and they pretended that they were rich little boys and girls with the finest toys money could buy.
One year the winter was especially cold and harsh, and as a result there was no business in the shop and, alas, no money with which to buy food.
“Oh dear! Oh dear!” cried the toymaker’s wife as she looked in the cupboard. “There is only enough food for one more meal. Whatever will become of us?”
“Don’t worry,” said the toymaker, “something good will happen.”
That evening the children ate the last bit of food, then retired to the toy shop to play and forget their hunger and the cold in a world of make believe. The old toymaker retired to his workshop and worked through the night.
The next morning, the children and their mother were roused from their beds by the most delicious food smells. Coming into the kitchen they found the table spread with piles of food.
“But where did all this come from?” asked the wife.
The toymaker smiled and said “Come and sit down and eat and I will tell you everything.”
There was no need to ask twice, indeed the three children already had their plates piled high with eggs and meats and vegetables. And there was much feasting and joy.
“Now tell us, where did this wonderful food come from?” laughed the old wife with her mouth full.
“Well,” said the toymaker, “last night as I was working in the workshop I got the idea of making toys that look like food so that at least we could pretend that we had something to eat. So with wood and paint I fashioned loaves of bread and bowls of potatoes and pitchers of milk. All of the food you see on the table this morning.”
“But this is not wood,” said the old woman picking up a crust of bread and popping it in her mouth. “This is real.”
“That’s true,” said the toymaker. “But that’s not all that happened. I must have gotten tired working all night for I dozed off and had the strangest dream. In my dream a young man appeared at my side. I was startled since I had not heard anyone enter the shop. The stranger said that he represented the ‘spirit of the toys’ and that he knew of our problems and was prepared to help us. He said that we had served the toys well and that they would take care of us and we would never be hungry again. Then he left the shop and I awoke to find my toy food hot and steaming on the table.”
“Why it is truly a miracle,” exclaimed the old woman. “We’ll never be hungry again!”
Some weeks later, when the storm passed and the icy winter began to thaw, a customer was surprised to find two large dolls and three small dolls all in the likeness of the old toymaker and his family seated around the table. The table was set with many brightly painted dishes of toy food. All of the dolls had contented smiles on their faces but of the living toymaker and his family no trace could be found.
The Spirit of the Toys had kept his promise.
About the author
Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of The Greer Agency , A Felony of Birds and dozens of short stories. His fiction has appeared in Ray Gun Revival, Dunesteef Audio Magazine, Literal Translations, FriedFiction, Down In The Dirt, Eclectic Flash, E Fiction and many other publications. His poetry has appeared in Vox Poetica, The poem Factory and The Poetry Super Highway. You can find links to his novels at: http://harristobias-fiction.blogspot.com/