Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Children's Book Review: Doll Bones

Doll Bones
Holly Black

Zach, Alice, and Poppy are best friends, on the cusp of adolescence. They meet every day after school at Poppy’s house to continue an ongoing roleplaying game with their action figures. Poppy provides a rich storyline while the other kids' action figures play as characters in her world (think a homemade version of Dungeons and Dragons). The storyline revolves around The Queen, a creepy antique porcelain doll that Poppy’s mother has locked in a glass display cabinet. When his father throws away his toys in a misguided attempt at tough love, Zach ends the game abruptly. He is devastated by the betrayal and embarrassed to tell his friends why he can’t play anymore. Desperate, Poppy “liberates” The Queen to entice Zach to play with them again. This is when things get weird. After she is set free, The Queen comes to Poppy in a dream and tells her that she is made from the remains of a little girl named Eleanor. She threatens to haunt Poppy forever if she doesn’t lay her to rest with her family in town miles away. Poppy, who is always up for an adventure, goes to her friends in the middle of the night and enlists their help in returning Eleanor to her hometown. The trio runs away from home and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

This story has a lot of great things going on. First of all, it is super creepy. The thought of running away from home in the middle of the night to carry a doll made from the bones of a little girl to a town I’ve never been to gives me the creeps. And I’m an adult! I can’t imagine how a kid would feel about that prospect with almost no money and no experience with the real world and dealing with ghosts to boot! The story also has a lot of heart. Readers get a first-hand look at the way friendships change as kids make the transition from childhood to adulthood. It’s a great story for tweens and kids in their early teenage years. The premise is pretty darn creepy and the description of the issues that plague middle schoolers is spot on. It’s good for both boys and girls and any grownup that enjoys a good campfire tale.

Mollie McFarland
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

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