The Runaway Dolls, by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, was published in 2008 by Hyperion. It is the sequel to The Meanest Doll in the World.
Best friends Annabelle Doll and Tiffany Funcraft have stumbled upon an unexpected visitor, a new doll named Tilly May. She’s arrived in a mysterious package…but she looks so familiar. Could she be Annabelle’s long-lost baby sister? It’ll take a runaway adventure to find out for sure. Are the dolls ready for life on the road?
The Runaway Dolls is the best Doll People book so far—miles better than The Meanest Doll in the World and even better than the original The Doll People, at least in my opinion. For one thing, it’s much longer, so a lot more time can be devoted to development of characters and world. For another, it gets Annabelle and Tiffany out of the Palmer’s house and into some new adventures. It’s the most Toy Story-ish of all the Doll People books so far, too.
While Annabelle has some frustrating moments in the beginning, for the most part I like her much better than in Meanest Doll. And the grand scale of the adventures help detract from her attitude problems, too. Again, getting away from the Palmer’s house was the best decision to make on the part of Martin and Godwin. And the best part of the book was Brian Selznick’s fabulous illustrations, and for fans of his, yes, his story-telling-through-pictures can be found inside the pages!
There were a few rough patches to the book; I felt that the beginning, the incentive to get the dolls in “runaway” mode, was forced and the entire scene with the author note of “Skip this if you’re scared!” preluding it was a waste of time, in my opinion, since it established virtually nothing and brought back an annoying character for no reason.
But despite the little bumps, The Runaway Dolls is a grand adventure, and in many ways even better than the first book. It has a wide cast of characters, but there’s never too much going on at one time, and you get to see how harrowing the life of a doll can be away from the safety of home (again, think Toy Story). The Meanest Doll was a rough book to get through, but this book was worth it.
Recommended Age Range: 10+
Genre: Realistic, Children’s
They searched up and down the bank for more than an hour, but didn’t spot a single track or footprint.
“Finding the wagon tracks was the first step toward going home,” said Annabelle dully. “We’re not off to a very good start.”
“And now it’s almost dark,” said Bailey.
“I think,” said Tiffany, “that we’re going to be spending the night in the woods after all.”