Using a variety of intertextual critical approaches, including feminist theory, neo-Freudian Winnicott play analysis, structuralism, and neo-Marxism, Kuznets focuses on how toy characters, like children's play, can be associated with deep human needs, desires, and fears. Anxiety about being "real"—an autonomous subject rather than an object—permeates many of the texts Kuznets analyzes. Toy fantasies also raise existential issues of power: what it means either to dominate or to be dominated by more powerful beings, and what dangers might lie in the transformation of a toy into a living being—an act of human creativity that represents a challenge to divine creation. Kuznets concludes that although many of these texts subvert conformity on an individual level, they also tend to evoke a romantic nostalgia that supports the underlying values and hierarchies of a patriarchal society.
Winner of the 1997 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies given by the Mythopoeic Society
Winner of the 1994 Book Award given by the Children’s Literature Association
"A remarkable and insightful study of the role that different types of toys play in literature for children and adults. Elegantly written, it is a pioneer work in the field."—Jack Zipes, University of Minnesota
- Winner of the 1997 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies
- Winner of the 1994 Book Award of the Children’s Literature Association