My friend Kallie loves toys. It seems to me that she always has some story in the works about toys. So I wasn’t too surprised this summer when she asked me about Een toys. I hadn’t really thought too much about it before—after all, Kendra is a little too old for dolls, not to mention the fact that she’s usually too busy dodging dragons and giants to be worrying about playtime.
But of course, the question had been put in my mind, so before I knew it, I had the below sketch to show Kallie, along with this explanation:
An Een mother handmakes a stuffy for her child and stuffs it with the cotton from a cloudtail plant. This is a magical plant (of course!) and gives the toy a special power, so that the toy binds itself to the first child that loves it. The stuffy then is connected to the child’s mood and can give him or her comfort, laughter, or snuggles when he/she needs it.
Kallie adored this explanation and it turns out that this idea of Een toys has ended up playing a significant role in my new book, Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah. Here’s the final pen-and-ink version I completed:
Now, why a rabbit you ask? At first I wasn’t even sure. Sometimes my pencil just moves across the page with a mind of its own. After I had inked the drawing and included it in my manuscript, I thought maybe I had chosen a rabbit because, once upon a time, Kendra herself was portrayed as a rabbit in the early versions of my manuscript for The Box of Whispers (but that’s a whole OTHER story).
But then I realized that my very first stuffed toy was a rabbit! And when I dug into my old storage crates to look for it, I was kind of surprised to see a certain similarity between Kendra’s rabbit and my own . . .
I guess that’s the workings of the subconscious mind! This little (and well-worn) critter obviously brought me a lot of comfort when I was a child. Rumour has it that it even once had whiskers, but I guess they didn’t survive.
So, now I ask YOU—what was your first toy?