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. 29, 2002

ISBN: 0-374-31678-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002


A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996


Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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