"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Dollshop Downstairs by Yona Zeldis McDonough


My second Camper's Choice book is The Doll Shop Downstairs by Yona Zeldis McDonough, illustrated by Heather Maione. This is a perfect choice for 2nd-4th grade girls (maybe some boys, too) who enjoy old fashioned books about little girls. Set at the start of World War I, this story is about nine year old middle sister Anna, whose parents own a doll repair shop. She and her siblings Sophie and Trudie love to help out in the shop, and each loves a special doll waiting to be fixed up. When the war begins in Europe, German doll parts are unavailable to the owners of the lower east side business, and Anna decides she will find a way to help her family keep their shop thriving.

McDonough has taken the setting from the life of Bertha (later Beatrice) Alexander, creator of Madame Alexander dolls, and added her own characters and storyline. She has written a cozy and comforting story with a similar feel to Betsy-Tacy (Betsy-Tacy Books) or All-of-a-Kind Family. Highlights include the family's birthday visit to FAO Schwartz, the sale of their first doll, named Nurse Nora, and the fulfillment of Anna's special wish. I enjoyed the details of life in New York in 1914.  After the story, McDonough has included a glossary and timeline. Maione's friendly black and white drawings sweetly bring the children's world of family and dollys to readers.

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