Leech (The Dollies Put on a Play, 2014, etc.) offers a work that serves as both a picture book for children and an international look-book for doll collectors. It continues the format established in her previous book: color photographs of costumed dolls on custom sets, with all the details—from the hairdos to the props—inviting close study. The dolls all look like young children, carefully costumed and coiffed to match their countries of origin. Each spread depicts a celebration particular to a single country or region—one for each month of the year, plus New Year’s Day. The text provides a caption for each photograph, offering a short description of the holiday at hand. It covers the Chinese New Year, Brazilian Carnival, Japan’s Doll Festival (or Hinamatsuri), Australia and New Zealand’s ANZAC Day, and France’s Bastille Day, among others. For some holidays, a photographic backdrop helps create the air of an authentic location in the Outback, the Irish countryside or London. But readers may wonder about the author’s choice to present the dolls as residents of each locale, when a close look at their faces reveals serious limits to their diversity—take away the clothes, the hair, and the skin tone, and they all simply look like Caucasian toddlers. The costumes, settings and props are all exquisite. However, the author clearly paid less attention to details in the text itself. For example, the book incorrectly claims that Brazil’s Carnival is celebrated “forty days before Easter”; it’s actually celebrated up to six days prior to Ash Wednesday, which is 46 days before Easter. Less important, but misleading, is the assignment of Chinese New Year and Carnival to months in which they don’t always take place—Chinese New Year will be in February in 2015, for example.
A children’s book that’s strong on beauty, but a bit weak on facts and authentic diversity.