In Kid Number One: Alan Hassenfeld and Hasbro, author G. Wayne Miller provides a comprehensive look into all things Hasbro: its founding, triumphs, challenges, competitors, products, and most extensively, the Hassenfelds. Beginning with the story of how Henry and Hillel Hassenfeld immigrated to America and soon after founded Hassenfeld Bros in 1917, Miller covers the journey of Hasbro all the way through 2019, running through its list of CEOs following the original brothers: Merrill Hassenfeld, Stephen Hassenfeld, Alan Hassenfeld, Al Verrecchia, and Brian Goldner. Miller focuses most entirely on Alan: his early life, how his business ventures began, his abrupt ascent into the CEO position, his reign as the head of Hasbro, and his philanthropic endeavors and political involvements before and after stepping down from leadership at Hasbro.
Miller is thorough: with hundreds of quotes from different significant people, interviews, photos, and statistics, Kid Number One truly provides a vast knowledge of all things Hasbro. Readers are brought along for fantastic inventions that brought Hasbro prosperity, the products that flopped within weeks and dug Hasbro into a financial hole, and the management decisions that ended up fixing things.
Aside from the factual information, Miller does an excellent job of telling stories — I was nearly brought to tears on numerous occasions while reading. Readers are welcomed into the Hasbro family, learn the quirks of all its characters, and quite befriend them as much as one can befriend people they’ve never met.
In particular, readers meet Alan Hassenfeld. We learn of his likes, dislikes, and personality which translate into his business; his values that inform the Hasbro management style; and, his socially conscious nature supported by his philanthropic passions. Miller paints the picture of an incredible businessman, family man, and philanthropist. Alan is not someone readers will forget after turning the last page.
Miller enhances his prose with pictures of the people and products he writes about, a cast list of characters with brief biographies, and a list of notable toys in the beginning of the book as well as chapter notes and a complete index in the back of the book, making information very accessible.
Kid Number One is an impressive, informational, and all-around engaging read. More than a story, more than a history, and more than a biography, Kid Number One is everything anyone who’s interested in the toy industry could need.
Julia DeKorte is a book reviewer focused on the noteworthy people and manufacturers from the toy and game industry. In addition to Toy Tales, she is a regular contributor at People of Play.