I picked up The Runaway Dolls off the display shelf at the library with the thought that maybe my girls were old enough now to read it. Yes, this was a case of judging a book by its cover–I’ve passed up the title before because I thought it looked a teensy bit scary. It turns out, though, that this is a purely delightful story, and despite the fact that it is book number three in The Doll People series, we were all swept up in the story and read it very quickly. In fact, we sometimes neglected our other chapter book, a more complicated and dense story that we started quite a bit before we started this one, to read The Runaway Dolls. This is also the first chapter book that the DLM (who just turned three last month) has really, really paid attention to. The fact that it has huge illustrations throughout by the very talented Brian Selznick (author and illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck) helped pull him along in the story.
The Runaway Dolls is the story of Annabelle Doll and Tiffany Funcraft, dolls who live in dollhouses in the Palmers’ home. Annabelle, Tiffany, and their families are actually living dolls (or something like that), having taken the Doll Code of Honor which obligates them to never do anything reckless or foolish that would endanger themselves or other living dolls. The punishment, should this happen, is that they would be put in Doll State, and if the infraction is severe enough, into Permanent Doll State. In this story, Annabelle and Tiffany strike out on their own to save Annabelle’s sister, Tilly May, who has recently been sent from England, having been misplaced over a hundred years ago in the dollmaker’s shop where she and the other Dolls were made. Annabelle and Tiffany open up the package she is sent in, but there is a problem: although the Palmers are on vacation, common sense dictates that a new baby doll cannot suddenly appear in the home–this would be a direct violation of the Doll Code of Honor. In a fit of childish rebellion, Annabelle and Tiffany set out with Tilly May to show her the world. They encounter many doll-sized adventures, but they ultimately have to make it back home before the Palmers get back from their vacation.
I’m being vague as to exactly what happens in the story because it’s one of those in which the plot is best left undiscussed. We all enjoyed this one a lot. My only quibble with it is that it has some unnecessary references to tweenage romance, but for a modern children’s novel, it’s not bad–not bad at all. In fact, I couldn’t help but be reminded of all the other doll stories we’ve enjoyed over the years:
- Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field
- The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
- The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson
- Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin have written an exciting, entertaining story, one that I’m sure we want to go back and read the beginning of. We give The Runaway Dolls a Highly Recommended. (Hyperion, 2008)
Do you have a favorite doll story?
Friends, it’s time to shake things up a bit here at RAT. Participation has been waning over the past months, and while I have no doubt things will pick up again as we enter into a new school year, even I am finding it hard to keep up the pace. With four children in our household now, chapter book read-alouds take a little longer. While I still read picture books, I’m finding that I’m revisiting old favorites with the DLM more often than I am picking up new books I can’t wait to share with you all. Thus, I have decided to make Read Aloud Thursday a monthly meme. I will post the linky on the last Thursday of the month beginning July 25. I know that throws things off a bit, so if you’ve already written your RAT post for this week, please, do share it in the comments. I will likely continue to share our read-alouds at various times during the weeks, but we will round them all up into one post once a month. How does this sound to everyone? I hope that you will continue to share your read alouds. I love this little community we’ve built here so much, and I’d love to see it grow.