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by Corinne Demas Bliss

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-7868-0153-0
Publisher: Hyperion

PLB 0-7868-2125-6 As is true for Pam Conrad’s Tub People, the events in a matryoshka doll’s life depend on external manipulations and circumstances; in this case, it makes the story of a perilous journey fall somewhat flat. A set of the nesting dolls is carved in a Russian village and then sent to a toy shop in America. The outer doll, Anna, has been instructed by the maker to watch over her siblings—“Keep your sisters safe inside you”—but there is nothing she can do when the smallest doll, Nina, is accidentally brushed off the counter and unceremoniously kicked out the door. It is an odyssey in which she has absolutely no active part, nor does she have reactions, for all she possesses is a blank matryoshka face. In the meantime, a young girl who has bought the rest of the set on sale charmingly tucks a little wad of cotton into the next-to-smallest doll so she won’t feel empty. Brown’s atmospheric but docile watercolors often view the matryoshka dolls from a distance, furthering the sense that the story is about events surrounding the dolls, instead of the dolls themselves. An author’s note on the history of matryoshkas is a welcome touch. (Picture book. 4-8)