Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chapter Books For Doll Lovers

Written by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Ages 6 and up
Originally published in 1906, this is a charming, classic story (by the author of A Little Princess and The Secret Garden) of two dollhouses and their inhabitants and the little girl who is their careless and untidy owner. With the advent of the new, modern Tidy Castle and its inhabitants, the old-fashioned hand-me-down dollhouse and family gets dubbed Racketty-Packetty, and moved to an out-of-the-way corner of the nursery and ignored. But the old doll family continues to live life to the fullest, in a jolly, happy fashion. And then their world is threatened as they learn that their little owner intends to burn their house, and only the fairy queen Crosspatch, who loves them and visits the happy family often, can save them. (The story is narrated by Queen Crosspatch.) My girls are enchanted by this story that contains timeless lessons about life.
We have the version illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin, and my older girls pore over the illustrations constantly, as well as re-reading it. (The cover for the one illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin is not very appealing, but the internal illustrations are lovely.)
Written by Elizabeth Orton Jones
Ages 6 and up
(Published in 2002 by Purple House Press)
This wonderful classic book was originally published in 1947. It's a timelessly sweet story that my little girls love. A tale about miracles large and small, the story focuses on Christmas Eve, the one night when the dolls come alive each year. (Big Susan is the little girl who owns them.) Most appealling for the 6-10 age bracket.

Written by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin
Illustrated by Brian Selznick
Middle Readers, Ages 7 and up
(Published in 2000 by Hyperion Books)
This is the first book in a series that my girls continuously turn to for reading pleasure. This first book tells the story of Annabelle Doll, an eight-year-old doll who had been passed down from mother to daughter for 100 years. Her current owner, Kate, seems to be getting too old for dolls because Annabelle hasn't been played with much lately, and she's bored. It seems to Annabelle that nothing exciting has ever really happened, except for the matter weighing heavily on her mind lately: the disappearance of Annabelle's Auntie Sarah some 45 years ago. No one knows where she's gone. In her exploring, Annabelle has found Auntie Sarah's journal, but keeps it a secret from her family while she figures out what to do.
When Kate's little sister, Nora gets a new dollhouse set for her birthday, the two girls from the very disparate doll families become fast friends. Together they try to solve the mystery of Auntie Sarah's disappearance, while trying to bridge the generational gap between their two families, and avoid Doll State (if they are seen moving by a human, they lose the ability to move and end up in Doll State for 24 hours) and the family cat, Captain, who shows too much interest in their movements and seems to have a penchant for stashing toys.
My girls love this story, and the next two books of the series, and they love the illustrations. We had these books before Karina could read, and she frequently picked them up to pour over the pictures. She was so excited when she was finally able to read these books. Now both older girls pick them up frequently to re-read their favorite parts.
These books also make good read-alouds. And if you have a chance to listen to the audiobook version, do. It is read to perfection by Lynn Redgrave. 

House of Dolls
Written by Francesca Lia Block
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Middle Readers, Ages 8 and up
(Published in 2010 by HarperCollins Children's Books)
Madison Blackberry's dolls live the high life in a sumptuous dollhouse, with handmade clothes and furnishings, provided lovingly by Madison's grandmother. The problem is, Madison is being ignored by the adults in her life, and she's taking her resentment out on the dolls.
  A good story that is both tragic and hopeful, about the importance of time spent with your children. The issue of the grandmother showing her love for her granddaughter by providing her with these lavish "things" for her dolls, but not lavishing her time on the girl is an important message for anyone. And the story's resolution is satisfying. I certainly enjoyed the book and message, and, of course, the illustrations. (The main reason I bought it. I'm a huge fan of Barbara McClintock's work.)
I haven't read this aloud to my girls, because the dolls in the story have "boyfriends", and one of the ways the little girl punishes the dolls is by sending their boyfriends to "war" (a shoebox in the closet.) This is a very big deal to the dolls, and while nothing inappropriate goes on, I feel like that is not an issue I want raised front and center with my little girls. There will be plenty of time for that later. So this is one book I will have to keep for my own enjoyment for a few more years.

And some recent purchases that I'm looking forward to reading:

Written by Rachel Field
Illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop

"This Newbery Award winner is a timeless classic about a very special doll that belongs to Phoebe Preble. Phoebe brings her beautiful doll everywhere she goes, both on land and sea, and they share many adventures and meet new friends. This is the story of Hitty's years with Phoebe, and the many that follow in the life of a well-loved doll." (From Goodreads)

Written by Kirby Larson

"I am Miss Kanagawa. In 1927, my 57 doll-sisters and I were sent from Japan to America as Ambassadors of Friendship. Our work wasn't all peach blossoms and tea cakes. My story will take you from New York to Oregon, during the Great Depression. Though few in this tale are as fascinating as I, their stories won't be an unpleasant diversion. You will make the acquaintance of Bunny, bent on revenge; Lois, with her head in the clouds; Willie Mae, who not only awakened my heart, but broke it; and Lucy, a friend so dear, not even war could part us. I have put this tale to paper because from those 58 Friendship Dolls only 45 remain. I know that someone who chooses this book is capable of solving the mystery of the missing sisters. Perhaps that someone is you." (From Goodreads)
Illustrated by Heather Maione

"Nine-year-old Anna and her sisters love to play with the dolls in their parents' doll repair shop. But when World War I begins, an embargo on German-made goods-including the parts Papa needs to repair the dolls-threatens to put the family's shop out of business. Fortunately, Anna has an idea that just might save the day. Inspired by the true story of Madame Alexander, this is a timeless tale of family and imagination." (From Goodreads)

Written by Mary Downing Hahn

"After Ashley and Kristi find an antique doll buried in old Miss Cooper's garden, they discover that they can enter a ghostly turn-of-the-century world by going through a hole in the hedge." (From Goodreads)

Written by Rumer Godden

"Tottie is a loving little wooden doll who lives with her family in a shoebox. The doll family are owned by two sisters, Emily and Charlotte, and are very happy, except for one thing: they long for a proper home. To their delight, their wish comes true when Emily and Charlotte fix up a Victorian dolls' house - just for them. It's perfect. But then, a new arrival starts to wreak havoc in the dolls' house. For Marchpane might be a wonderfully beautiful doll, but she is also terribly cruel. And she always gets her own way ..." (From Goodreads)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Picture Books For Doll Lovers

In cleaning up the inevitable books scattered here, there, and everywhere, I suddenly realized that we have quite the collection of books about dolls. I suppose that's natural, given that I have three very girly girls who love their dolls. So here you go: our well-loved collection of picture books featuring dolls (and the books we haven't read yet but want to, that feature dolls.) The next post will be the chapter books we have featuring dolls, as well as the books on our reading wish list.

Written and illustrated by Tasha Tudor
A charming book that gets pored over frequently by my girls, about two little girls who discover their grandmother's doll -a nineteenth century porcelain doll- and all her drool-worthy accoutrements, written and illustrated by the incomparable Tasha Tudor.

Another fun and charming doll book from Tasha Tudor. It has made my girls long for the doll house in it, and start writing tiny doll letters.
This book appeals to my bigger girls more now at ages 6 1/2 and 8 than it did when they were younger.

Written and illustrated by Barbara McClintock

All of us love this delightful story of a little tomboy of a girl named Charlotte who receives a frilly doll from her aunt. At first, the tomboyish, nature-loving little girl doesn't know what to do with her, but she drags Dahlia along on her day's adventures anyway. By the end of the day, Dahlia is not so frilly anymore, but she has a strangely happy smile on her face. Best of all is the aunt's reaction when she discovers the state of the doll. Such a good story, with wonderful illustrations! One of our most favorite books!

Written by Rebecca Caudill
Illustrated by Elliott Gilbert

If you haven't read this book, it's a little gem. First published in 1962, this sweet story is about a little girl named Betsy and her dolls. One day Betsy is invited to a party and the invitation instructs her to bring one doll to the party. "Prizes will be given for the oldest doll, the best-dressed doll, the doll who can do the most things," reads the invitation. Which of her dolls should Betsy take? Find out which choice she makes, and find out what the wise mother of the birthday girl does to pay special tribute to Betsy's choice. This is a charming story that my little girls love.
Written by Charlotte Zolotow
Illustrated by William Pene Du Bois

A classic. Beautiful, poignant story, beautifully told, with a message that is still valid, despite the dated illustrations. Has anyone not read this? If not, you should, especially if you have little boys. If I were an advocate of required reading, I would thrust this into every father's hands and make them read it.
Written by Rumer Godden
Illustrated by Barabra McClintock

Another classic that I loved when I was a girl, and now my girls love as well. This Christmas story of how a doll, an orphan, and a couple's three wishes converge and are fulfilled makes a truly satisfying read no matter what time of year.

Written by Jacqueline Ogburn
Illustrated by Laurel Long

A Russian-inspired fairy/folk tale of a girl given a matroyshka doll, which comes with special instructions. Best of all (in my girls' eyes) the girl rescues the prince, instead of the other way round. I love Laurel Long's magical illustrations that accompany this intriguing story.

Other picture books we haven't read yet, but would like to read soon:

Babushka's Doll 
Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
"Babushka's doll was special. She had played with it only once, when she was a little girl like her high-spirited granddaughter, Natasha.
Now Babushka is going to the store and it's Natasha's turn to take the little doll down from the high shelf. When the naughty doll comes to life -- and is even more rambunctious than the little girl herself -- Natasha finds out why playing once with Babushka's doll is enough!" (From Goodreads)

Written by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
Illustrated by Cristy Hale"When her new baby brother arrives, Elizabeti decides she needs a doll that she can care for the way her mother cares for the new baby. After looking around the village, Elizabeti finds the perfect doll to love. She names her Eva. When Mama changes the new baby's diaper, Elizabeti changes Eva's. When Mama sings to the baby, Elizabeti sings to Eva. And one day when Eva turns up lost, Elizabeti realizes just how much she loves her special doll. For children adjusting to a new sibling, this story is perfect." (From Goodreads)

Written and illustrated by Sharon Kane
"THE 'LITTLE MOMMY' in this story is an adorable little girl. We spend the day in her charming company as she cares for her dolls, treats their ills, gives them a tea party, feeds them dinner, and puts them to bed. Beautifully illustrated, this book has a timeless feel." (From Goodreads)

Written and illustrated by Elisa Kleven
"Lizzy loves the big apple tree in her yard more than anything. So when the first day of school comes, she picks a beautiful apple, turns it into a makeshift doll she names Susanna, and takes it along to keep her company. But her teacher tells her that dolls aren't allowed at school. Even worse, her sister says that Susanna won't last forever. Then Lizzy's mom shows her a way to turn Susanna into a real apple doll. And with the help of Susanna the Apple Doll, Lizzy overcomes her shyness at school and makes plenty of new friends to bring home to play in her beloved apple tree.
Detailed, delightful collage illustrations accompany this sweet story about one girl's success in bringing together her home world and her school world. Instructions for making an apple doll just like Susanna are included!" (From Goodreads)
Written by Morrell Gipson
Illustrated by Steffie Lerch
"For more than half a century children have been captivated with the story of Mary and her dolls. Mary's father was a sea captain who took long trips across the ocean, bringing back a doll from each journey. Soon Mary had six dolls and wished for a seventh one to become her "Sunday" doll. But Mary's father said six dolls were enough for any girl, so she set off to visit the Dollmaker and, oh, was she in for a surprise!" (From Goodreads)

Written by Alison Randall
Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth
"It is the late 1800s. Mary Ann lives with her family in the rugged Utah territory, where she tends the vegetable garden, dips candles, and braids rags into rugs. Mary Ann has a busy life, and a special friend to share it with: her beloved homemade doll, Betty.
Betty's wheat-filled body sits straight and tall. Her embroidered eyes never blink. Still, Mary Ann knows that Betty is always paying attention, and listening to her secrets.But one afternoon, a sudden, fierce storm forces Mary Ann and her family into their cabin before the young girl can retrieve her doll from the garden. By the time the wild wind and rain subside, Betty is gone. Heartbroken, Mary Ann refuses to give up searching for her best friend. Then one day, when winter turns to spring, Mary Ann spies a familiar shape growing as a patch of slender grass near the bottom of a hill...An afterword by the author reveals the story of the real-life Mary Ann and her doll, the inspiration for THE WHEAT DOLL." (From Goodreads)