The Meanest Doll in the World, by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, was published in 2003 by Hyperion. It is the sequel to The Doll People.
Annabelle Doll and Tiffany Funcraft are two dolls who have been best friends since they met in Kate Palmer’s house at 26 Wetherby Lane. In this sequel to The Doll People, they hitch a ride in Kate’s backpack and find themselves in the biggest adventure of their lives, a day at school! But when an attempt to return home lands them in the wrong house, they’re in far deeper trouble than they imagined. Along with a host of new doll friends, they also encounter Mean Mimi, the wickedest doll of all. Mean Mimi is mean—really mean—and she’s determined to rule all of Dollkind or else destroy it. Will the world ever be safe for dolls again?
The Meanest Doll in the World lacks some of the charm of The Doll People. The illustrations are as gorgeous as ever and the adventures are even more hair-raising, yet there’s still something missing. I’m going to guess that it’s because Meanest Doll has too many pithy statements and Annabelle spends too much time angsting over her uselessness and then goes on and on about “taking deep breaths.”
Basically, Meanest Doll is a little too pat with its message, to the point of overbearance. The Doll People was a little more subtle, whereas Meanest Doll does its hardest to hit the reader over the head with a toy sledgehammer.
The book also feels a tad short, and I wish that Mimi’s time at the Palmer’s house had been slightly extended, so that we at least got some more explanation for her motivation. As it stands, she’s a bit of a moustache-twirling villain. Not necessarily a bad thing in children’s books, but it led to a lot of “it’s not nice to be mean” moments. Again, not a bad thing in children’s books, but it was too preachy for me.
Recommended Age Range: 8+
Genre: Realistic, Children’s
“Tiffany,” whispered Annabelle, “you don’t suppose those dolls are—”
“Alive?” Tiffany whispered back. “Oh, I hope not.”
Most of the dolls were not properly dressed. One had been shoved headfirst into the sink. And a girl and a boy were playing with two others in a way that looked to Annabelle to be quite uncivilized.
“How are we going to get out of here?” Annabelle asked.
The Meanest Doll in the World lacks some of the charm that made The Doll People so delightful, probably due to the numerous instances of “let’s make this a teachable moment” that were slightly lacking in subtlety and consisted of pithy “being mean is bad”-type statements. Not necessarily bad if a child is reading it, but for me, it made the book less enjoyable.
You can buy this here: The Meanest Doll in the World