Friday, September 11, 2020

A Book Review: The Doll People

    Hello! This week I'm going to review another one of my favorite books, which I think is a perfect read anytime, anyplace! Although there have been many books and movies with similar concepts, this one stands out to me, and is definitely worth checking out.

    There may be minor spoilers as I try to give an accurate picture of the book.

    (The discussion questions will have spoilers, since they are supposed to be used after reading the book.)

Title: The Doll People

Author: Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin

Series: This is the first in a four-book series.

Targeted Age Range: 8-12

Synopsis: Annabelle Doll is eight years old-she has been for more than a hundred years. Not a lot has happened to her, cooped up in the dollhouse, with the same doll family, day after day, year after year. . . until one day the Funcrafts move in.

Language: "For heaven's sake", "oh my stars", and "darn" are used once.

Violence: Since the main characters are dolls, they are played with, thrown around, and shoved into various corners quite a bit. Sometimes, in the case of Kate's sister Nora and the family cat, which they call "The Captain", they can easily get broken or too rough for their taste. A rule that all living dolls must deal with, called "Doll State", says that if they are seen by a human, they can't move for twenty-four hours. Annabelle worries about "Permanent Doll State", which dictates that if your actions in front of a human could give away the living dolls, your ability to act like a human is taken away from you. Forever.

Romance/Sexual Stuff: None

Spiritual Elements: The dolls use a doll-sized hymnbook to sing "Bringing In The Sheaves".

Magic: The Doll Oath, and the rules of Doll State and Permanent Doll State may or may not be seen as magical.

References: There are references to Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman" and "Respect", Oliver Twist, Understood Betsy, Stuart Little, the Nancy Drew character and book series, Hurricane Connie, Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, National Geographic, lava lamps, VCRs, Barbie dolls, LEGOs, Rip Van Winkle, and TVs.

Other Issues: One of the main parts of the story deals with Annabelle's Auntie Sarah, a doll who has been missing for years. The older dolls get into an argument about searching for her, which leads Annabelle's Uncle to live away from them for a while.

Where To Buy: The Doll People is available on Amazon, eBay, Barnes & Noble, Abebooks, Book Depository, Alibris, Indigo, and Better World Books. There are also audio versions via AudibleKobo, and

My Age Range: I think kids aged 8 and up would enjoy this book the most.

Read Aloud: This would be a great read aloud, and a perfect book to share with friends and family!

My Opinion: I first read this book when I was around Annabelle and Tiffany's age. The premise, Brian Selznick's gorgeous art, and Annabelle's admirable pluck drew me in. I got to the point where I was excited to read the next chapters, wondering along with Annabelle what had happened to her aunt, and experiencing with her the highs and lows that come with making a new friend.
    The whole book is adventure-filled, interesting, and well done. Coming back as an older reader, I especially appreciate how detailed they made the doll family's history, and the very realistic rules that Doll State and Permanent Doll State have. But most of all, I love how The Doll People encourages you to see hidden adventure and hidden wonder in everyday life. Not unlike Edward Eager's Half Magic! (You can find my review of that book here.)
    This book would be perfect for anyone who enjoys playing make-believe, likes stories about friendship and family, or who just wants to curl up and read something good.

Discussion Questions:

-Annabelle has stayed eight for more than a hundred years. If you could choose to stay eight forever, would you want to? Why or why not?

-At first glance, Annabelle and Tiffany seem like opposites, but as they spend more time together, it's easier to see they make a good pair. What are some ways Annabelle and Tiffany are the same? What are some ways they're different?

-Which part of the book was your favorite? Why?

-Annabelle learns a lot of things about herself while searching for Auntie Sarah. What thing about herself do you think she'll most likely remember? What thing do you think she might forget?

-Even though Mama and Papa knew Baby Betsy wasn't from the same doll family, they loved her so much they adopted her into their family. Do you know someone who was also adopted in your life?

-How has Annabelle's life changed since she met the Funcrafts? How has it stayed the same?

    Thanks for taking a look at The Doll People with me. This was such a fun book to write about. I hope this post helped you find a new read, or if you've already read the book, consider reading it again.

    So, what do you think? Would you want to read the book? Have you finished this one already, or something like it? I'd love to find any more books or series like this to put on my TBR list.

    If you have a book or book series you'd like to review, let me know! You can contact me by writing a comment below. (Please glance at my Review Policy page to make sure I'm accepting those books.)

    Next week, join me for a unique perspective on early American history...

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