Saturday, March 01, 2008

What a Doll!

I love working the circulation desk at school libraries because that is where I really get a sense of what kids are taking home with them. Checking out a library book is such a commitment for some children. Even though the book is "free," it is fascinating how seriously some kids make their decision.

It is fun to note the continuing popularity of Ann M. Martin's The Doll People and The Meanest Doll in the World at the elementary schools where I work. Girls check-out these books everywhere I sub.

I loved dolls as a girl. I liked stories about dolls and doll houses. My own little entlings did not share my enthusiasm. They tolerated dolls but never really played with them.

I read Pam Conrad's Tub People books to
my kids because we had tub people at our
house when they were small.

As a girl I read all of Rumer Godden's doll stories.
I loved the Tasha Tudor illustrations of
The Doll's House...

...and the idea of a Japanese doll house,
with sliding screens, was so appealing in Miss Happiness and Miss Flower and the sequel, Little Plum

In A Secret Garden, Sara Crewe's beautiful doll,
with her exquisite wardrobe and beautiful accessories,
probably led to my fascination with American Girl doll catalogs.
hmmm ... Tasha Tudor again.

...and then there was Big Susan by Elizabeth Orton Jones, probably my first
doll book.

The Newbery award winning Hitty: her first hundred years by Rachel Field was another doll book from my childhood. I think the new edition with Rosemary Well's illustrations make the book more accessible to readers today.

I leave you with a lovely doll moment with the exquisite,
Laura Claycomb
as Olympia in The Tales of Hoffman.

From Wikipedia:

Offenbach intended that the four soprano roles be played by the same singer, for Olympia, Giulietta and Antonia are three facets of Stella, Hoffmann's unreachable love...While the doubling of the four villians is quite common, most performances of the work use multiple sopranos for the heroines. This is due to the different skills needed for each role: Olympia requires a skilled coloratura singer with stratospheric high notes, Antonia is written for a more lyric voice, and Guilietta is usually performed by a dramatic soprano or even a mezzo-soprano.

Stratospheric, indeed.


Jen Robinson said...

I liked doll stories, too, Camille. One of my favorites by Ginnie and the Mystery Doll by Catherine Wolley. I don't remember it all that well, but I know that I adored it.

Camille said...

Another area where we are soul sisters.

The title of that book sounds so familiar...

Jen Robinson said...

It is a pleasure being soul sisters with you, Camille. Ginnie and the Mystery Doll was part of a short series of books by Wolley, published in the early 70's, I think. I think that they're all long out of print, but I occasionally run across them in used bookstores.

Thanks for brightening my day!

Anonymous said...

Oh Oh! Me too! How about the Best Loved Doll by Rebecca Caudill. I also remember a short story as a kid about a girl who breaks a vase and refuses to apologize, so her parents sell off all of her toys until they get to a raggedy well loved doll and she begs to keep it. No idea what the name of that one was and that book's packed...

Camille said...

Wow sockbug,
The Best Loved Doll has 23 5-star reviews on Amazon. The cover didn't look familiar -- did it used to have a picture of a little girl taking the doll out of a box, holding it over her head???

Honestly, if it had the word "doll" in the title I read it.

Anonymous said...

Camille, This is very timely for me, as I just had a kid who put a suggestion in the idea box at WPL that we get more books like The Doll People. (Well, I believe she wrote, "The Doll Poeple," but I still believe this is what she was getting at.) I think we have most of the books you mention, but maybe it's time for me to do a display or a bulletin board or something....

Mary Lee said...

How about The Borrowers? They were one of my favorites when I was a kid.

Camille said...

Mary Lee,
Oh yes, The Borrowers. I think the idea that dolls had other lives when I was not in the room was part of the fascination. The Borrowers were doll house sized.

Do kids read The Borrowers today? Do teachers read the books to them?

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

What a terrific post and discussion, thank you all! Some of the doll books you mentioned were my favorites--Hitty, the Rumer Godden books (Miss Happiness and Miss Flower!), a lot of others. I also loved The Christmas Dolls by Carol Beach York.

Some more recent favorites are Dahlia by Barbara McClintock (this is a great book) and The Birthday Doll by Jane Cutler (with wonderful illustrations by Hiroe Nakata). I'll try to think of some others, too!

Camille said...

Anamaria- I had not heard of Dahlia, it looks precious.The Birthday Doll looks sweet too.

It occurs to me that my mother often read me one of the original doll stories, Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy stories by Johnny Gruelle.