Duffy, author of a previous toy fantasy--The Revolt of the Teddy Bears--returns to the genre to tell a more serious story. Alison, eight, has been ill with an unnamed, potentially fatal disease for as long as she can remember. Aside from her worried family, her chief support is her no-nonsense doll, Netty, and her ""furry;""a stuffed dog named Boodles, with whom she holds comforting conversations. When her brother brings her a French doll who turns out to have the measles, Alison and her toy friends open a doll hospital, available to dolls and furries needing recuperation from childhood diseases and trauma. This new interest gives Alison courage to cope successfully with her own illness and a difficult new treatment; at story's end, she is on the road to recovery. Though this marks a return to the plucky invalid genre, a Victorian staple, it is too sentimental and undramatic to recommend. The fantasy elements here are plodding; the dolls seem more alive than the humans. Well-intentioned but heavy-handed.