The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Goodwin

If you are looking for a story that you can share with your chapter book reader that doesn’t include first loves, cliques or mean girls, then this is the story for you. It’s a sweet, delightful and clever story about adventure, friendship and mystery.

Annabelle is part of a doll set that is over one hundred years old. The set has been passed down from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter. Annabelle is curious about what happened to her Auntie Sarah who disappeared from the doll set over 50 years ago. No one in her family seems to remember what happened, or no one is willing to talk about it. When a new doll family moves into the humans’ house (to appease the human’s younger sister who’s always playing her older sister’s doll set), Annabelle is excited learn the new dolls have a young daughter, too, named Tiffany. Annabelle and Tiffany team up to solve the mystery of what happened to Auntie Sarah.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]. I loved the idea of bringing in a new doll family to keep the sisters from fighting over the current doll set. The new doll set is made of plastic, which enables Tiffany to do more dangerous tasks than Annabelle, who is made out of china. The ever-present danger of The Captain, the humans’ cat, who will abscond with a doll at a moment’s notice, taking them to who knows where, adds an element of excitement to the story. Auntie Sarah is a Jane Goodall-type character whose disappearance happened when she was chronicling the wonders of the outside world: spiders, dust bunnies, etc. Once Auntie Sarah is found safe and sound, the dolls have to figure out how to let her be discovered by the human family, so her reappearance doesn’t raise any suspicions. Ann Martin and Laura Godwin weave all these elements together seamlessly to create a fantastic tale. Brian Selznick’s drawings bring visual interest to the story and life to the characters.

— Patrick

The Doll People, by Ann M. Martin and Laura Goodwin, Hyperion Books for Children, $7.99

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