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)


  1. What a fantastic post!

    I read The Friendship Doll last week and reviewed it-->

    As you probably know already, we LOVED Hitty--->


    Other than those two, I don't think I've read any of the ones in this post. I definitely need to look up some of these because I think my girls would love them!

    Thanks for putting this together!

  2. Thanks, Amy! I read your review of The Friendship Doll. It was well done; made me want to put it on top of my to-read stack. And thanks so much for mentioning my post!

  3. Great list! Hitty was one of my favorite re=reads as a child.