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THE DOLLHOUSE MAGIC by Yona Zeldis McDonough


by Yona Zeldis McDonough & illustrated by Diane Palmisciano

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-8050-6464-8
Publisher: Henry Holt

A simply written but touching holiday tale about cross-generational friendship. Sisters Lila and Jane are bewitched by the magnificent dollhouse displayed in the front window of Miss Amanda Whitcomb’s house. Stopping by the window after school to gaze at the intricately wrought plaything is the highlight of the girls’ day. Creating stories about the dollhouse and its contents helps the pair cope with the privations of the Great Depression; their Dad is out of work, they’ve moved out of their fine home, etc. An unexpected encounter with the eccentric, but friendly, older woman who lives inside the home marks the start of a special friendship. Miss Whitcomb welcomes the girls into her home, allowing them to play with her dollhouse. Despite their family’s hardships, the girls exhibit remarkable grace as they, and their family, freely share of their goodhearted spirit with the lonesome spinster. The inevitable disaster occurs when Miss Whitcomb dies suddenly on Christmas Eve, leaving the children devastated. They soon learn that Miss Whitcomb has left them the dollhouse. Yet, her legacy is both physical and spiritual as the girls generously share their new treasure with the child who has moved into Miss Whitcomb’s home. McDonough’s attention to small details vividly recreates the ambiance of the Depression era. While the plot is predictable, the combination of the character’s sweet nobility with McDonough’s winsome prose is beguiling. Palmisciano’s black-and-white illustrations, cheerfully drawn and with an eye for period details, lighten the emotional intensity of the tale. A wholesome and nostalgic period piece that’s a moving affirmation of good will to all. An author’s note provides further background information on the Great Depression. (Fiction. 7-10)