THE DOLL PEOPLE

From the Doll People series , Vol. 1

Little girls are in for a marvelous treat in this delicious fantasy that captures many of the rituals, fancies, and habits of girlhood with sweetness and honesty, while imparting gentle lessons about risk, self-fulfillment, and dealing with difference. Annabelle Doll lives with her family in their dollhouse in Kate’s room: her family of Victorian china dolls had belonged to Kate’s grandmother, and mother, and now belongs to Kate. Like the characters in Toy Story, the doll family has elaborate rituals for activity when the human family is asleep or occupied, and Annabelle’s parents are extremely protective and fearful. They’ve all taken the Doll Oath to keep their lives secret and fear Permanent Doll State, when they would simply be inanimate at all times (Barbies never take the Oath, and are always inanimate, we learn). But Auntie Sarah has disappeared (45 years ago) and Annabelle, who’s discovered her journal, longs to bring her back. Kate’s pesky little sister Nora soon acquires a dollhouse of her own, and the Funcraft family, with their modern ways and funky plastic accoutrements, inspire Annabelle, who becomes best friends with Tiffany Funcraft. Tiffany and Annabelle form a private club, share secrets, and contrast their families in ways that will resonate with every girl who has ever wondered if her dolls talk to each other. In the end, they find Auntie Sarah and rescue Papa Doll from the fiendish clutches of the cat. The whole is fabulously illustrated by Selznick, whose pictures have a shapely richness that captures not only the sturdy tubbiness of the modern dolls, but the fragile rigidity of the Victorian ones. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7868-0361-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

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Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister:...

CORALINE

A magnificently creepy fantasy pits a bright, bored little girl against a soul-eating horror that inhabits the reality right next door.

Coraline’s parents are loving, but really too busy to play with her, so she amuses herself by exploring her family’s new flat. A drawing-room door that opens onto a brick wall becomes a natural magnet for the curious little girl, and she is only half-surprised when, one day, the door opens onto a hallway and Coraline finds herself in a skewed mirror of her own flat, complete with skewed, button-eyed versions of her own parents. This is Gaiman’s (American Gods, 2001, etc.) first novel for children, and the author of the Sandman graphic novels here shows a sure sense of a child’s fears—and the child’s ability to overcome those fears. “I will be brave,” thinks Coraline. “No, I am brave.” When Coraline realizes that her other mother has not only stolen her real parents but has also stolen the souls of other children before her, she resolves to free her parents and to find the lost souls by matching her wits against the not-mother. The narrative hews closely to a child’s-eye perspective: Coraline never really tries to understand what has happened or to fathom the nature of the other mother; she simply focuses on getting her parents back and thwarting the other mother for good. Her ability to accept and cope with the surreality of the other flat springs from the child’s ability to accept, without question, the eccentricity and arbitrariness of her own—and every child’s own—reality. As Coraline’s quest picks up its pace, the parallel world she finds herself trapped in grows ever more monstrous, generating some deliciously eerie descriptive writing.

Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister: Coraline is spot on. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-380-97778-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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NIM'S ISLAND

A child finds that being alone in a tiny tropical paradise has its ups and downs in this appealingly offbeat tale from the Australian author of Peeling the Onion (1999). Though her mother is long dead and her scientist father Jack has just sailed off on a quick expedition to gather plankton, Nim is anything but lonely on her small island home. Not only does she have constant companions in Selkie, a sea lion, and a marine iguana named Fred, but Chica, a green turtle, has just arrived for an annual egg-laying—and, through the solar-powered laptop, she has even made a new e-mail friend in famed adventure novelist Alex Rover. Then a string of mishaps darkens Nim’s sunny skies: her father loses rudder and dish antenna in a storm; a tourist ship that was involved in her mother’s death appears off the island’s reefs; and, running down a volcanic slope, Nim takes a nasty spill that leaves her feverish, with an infected knee. Though she lives halfway around the world and is in reality a decidedly unadventurous urbanite, Alex, short for “Alexandra,” sets off to the rescue, arriving in the midst of another storm that requires Nim and companions to rescue her. Once Jack brings his battered boat limping home, the stage is set for sunny days again. Plenty of comic, freely-sketched line drawings help to keep the tone light, and Nim, with her unusual associates and just-right mix of self-reliance and vulnerability, makes a character young readers won’t soon tire of. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81123-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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