Book Review: Toy Stories: The Secret Life of a Toy Designer, by Stefanie Eskander

by Julia DeKorte | 26 Aug 2022

Book Reviews

After just about forty years in the toy industry, toy designer Stefanie Eskander shares what it’s like to see your own ideas come to life… on the shelf of a toy store! In Toy Stories: The Secret Life of a Toy Designer, Eskander takes readers through the numerous jobs she’s worked in the toy industry, including six companies and freelance work.


Self-described as the Queen of Cute and all things sweet, cuddly, adorable, and girly, Eskander is primarily a girls’ toy designer, and has worked on many dolls, accessories, plush toys, and playsets in her time as a designer. The book itself reflects her brand – from the pink heading colors to the pictures of dolls and other designs right down to the playful font! Having worked for Hasbro, Mattel, Toys R Us, Fisher-Price, Tonka, Spin Master, and herself for an extended amount of time, Eskander documents the many cross-country moves she’s made and all she’s learned in her different roles, including the introduction of digital art in the early 90s, when she had to learn how to use Photoshop and Illustrator.


Filled with original drawings and designers, photographs of toys, dolls, and playsets she helped design, and personal photos, the pictures themselves tell Eskander’s stories. Most interestingly, Eskander often includes her original sketch of different products as well as a photo of how they turned out after production to really demonstrate how much goes into the creation of a toy. Also included throughout the book are cheeky “secrets” in which Eskander shells out interesting facts and tidbits that only a company insider would know.


Toy Stories is a heartwarming and interesting narrative, as Eskander humbly and graciously tells her life story through the lens of the toy industry. Toy Stories is personal and informative, complete with a timeline and map showing her many jobs in many places, a Q&A at the end, and paragraphs written by each of her four children about what it was like growing up with a toy designer for a mother. For anyone wanting to learn what it’s like to design toys, or anyone that wants to read about a life well spent creating joy (literally!), Eskander’s Toy Stories is the perfect book.

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