Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE DOLL IN THE GARDEN: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn Kirkus Star


by Mary Downing Hahn

Pub Date: April 17th, 1989
ISBN: 0618873155
Publisher: Clarion

A ghost cat leads ten-year-old Ashley through a hedge--and back to the time when her fiercely disagreeable old landlady was an unhappy child who committed a wrong she still regrets. Ashley and her newly widowed mother have just moved into Miss Cooper's upstairs apartment so that Mom can complete her dissertation. Despite Miss Cooper's unreasonable restrictions on her every move, Ashley manages to make friends with Kristi, a younger child next door; together, they explore the forbidden, overgrown garden and discover an old doll that is buried there. To her own surprise, Ashley feels compelled to take the doll for herself, hiding it from Kristi. Then the cat takes her next door, where she meets Louisa--a child who died of consumption in 1912--and learns that "Carrie" borrowed her beloved doll but never returned it. Carrie proves to be Miss Cooper, who--with the girls' help--is finally able to return the doll to her dear friend. Hahn uses her satisfyingly mysterious, spooky story to illuminate the interaction of people in the present: Ashley's abduction of the doll not only parallels the earlier one but is a manifestation of her unresolved grief; moreover, it is because Mom and Ashley have a healthy, loving relationship that each has tried to protect the other by keeping her grief to herself; the incident with the doll is the catalyst that causes them finally to confide in each other. Thoughtful, entertaining fare for the middle grades.