A breath of foul air. Narrator Alice and little sister Trissy come with their mother to a family confab at mad old Aunt Sarah's (apropos of putting her ""away""); and when the youngsters dress up one solitary afternoon, malicious cousin Paulie, fittingly garbed as a pirate, throws one of Aunt Sarah's ""hideous"" homemade dolls into the fire--throwing Alice into a tizzy: will the other dolls, who allegedly talk to A.S., tell her? The old lady doesn't say, but when the others have gone Alice comes upon her surreptitiously making a pirate doll ""for Paulie""--and drawing blood from her own hand with its dagger. Instead of mailing the wrapped-up doll, Alice buries it--and returns, after A.S. has indeed been dispatched, to find the hole empty. ""I saved your life, Paulie,"" she thinks. ""Grow up and be a nice person."" That had been Mama's lame reassurance earlier, but the book is so ineptly put together that not only is Paulie a monster, the other characters are elaborately and pointlessly stereotyped too--to the detriment of the already feeble (and rather distasteful) plot.