DAHLIA by Barbara McClintock


Age Range: 4 - 8
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Elegantly subversive and utterly charming comes a doll story with a sweet shot of reality. Porcelain colors and delicate line reign in the Victorian-style illustrations, full of verdant hills, beautifully appointed interiors, and lovely detail. When Charlotte gets the gift of a doll from her Aunt Edme, she is not pleased. In her little button boots with a pinafore over her blue dress, she explains to the doll that she and her teddy, Bruno, like climbing trees and making mud cakes. The doll seems to take to this, however, and Charlotte names her Dahlia because, in her froufrou getup, she looks like one. Dahlia also takes to Bruno’s favorite game, “toss-up-in-the-air-and-land-in-a-heap.” But Charlotte is quite upset when, while climbing high in her favorite tree with doll and bear, Dahlia falls to the ground. She takes the doll home, cleans and bandages her, and when Aunt Edme comes for dinner, presents herself, Dahlia, and Bruno. Aunt Edme, as laced and beribboned as Dahlia, kisses them all and notes that when she saw Dahlia in the shop window, she knew “she needed to be out in the sunshine, and played with, and loved.” Charlotte’s room is a wonder, full of shells, birds’ nests, and mounted butterflies. She bests the boys in a wagon race (Dahlia and Bruno are passengers) and paints watercolors in her sketchbook. Little girls already know that linen, silk, and ribbons aren’t incompatible with insatiable curiosity and boundless energy, but it is nice to see that all tied up in a story with a favorite doll. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 2002
ISBN: 0-374-31678-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2002


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