The Doll People, by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, was published in 2000 by Hyperion.
Annabelle Doll is eight years old—she has been for more than a hundred years. Not a lot has happened to her, cooped up in the dollhouse, with the same doll people, day after day, year after year…until one day the Funcrafts move in.
I read this book I don’t know how many times when I was younger (and even as I type this my roommate just told me, “Oh, man, The Doll People? I loved that book when I was younger!”). It reminds me of a cross between Toy Story and The Borrowers. The illustrations are delightful and the story itself, simple as it is, is charming.
When I first started reading the book, I thought, “Oh, yeah, this book is entirely about finding Aunt Sarah. Why is it so long again?” But then that wonderful thing happened—like with Tom’s Midnight Garden—where I went into the book expecting it to be a bit tedious because the simplicity of the plot doesn’t seem to warrant the length of the book, but then was fully immersed in the world and the characters and the delightful adventures of Annabelle and Tiffany.
And the book’s simplicity isn’t a bad thing. Bravery, friendship, and perseverance are heavily emphasized as Annabelle and Tiffany look for Aunt Sarah. Forgiveness plays a small part, too. It’s a simple book, but it’s a delightful one, chock-full of beautiful illustrations and virtues.
Recommended Age Range: 8+
Genre: Realistic, Children’s
Mama sighed. “Eight dolls.”
“Eight,” Anabelle repeated. “You and Papa, Nanny, Bobby, Baby Betsy, me, Uncle Doll, and…”
“And Auntie Sarah,” replied Mama.
“And Auntie Sarah was with us until nineteen fifty-five,” Annabelle went on. “Then one day…”
“She disappeared,” said Mama uncomfortably.
“Mama, Papa, dolls don’t just ‘disappear,’” said Annabelle. “Something has to happen to them.”
The Doll People is a fondly remembered book from my childhood. It’s got gorgeous illustrations (by Brian Selznick of The Invention of Hugo Cabret fame), a simple, yet delightful plot that emphasizes bravery and friendship among other things, and a cast of characters that are unforgettable.
You can buy this here: The Doll People