House of Dolls by Francesca Lia Block

Cindy: Francesca Lia Block writing for middle grade readers about doll houses? Really? But it makes sense, doesn’t it? The maven of magical realism, high fashion, and love is the perfect author for this story that also peeks into the world of how we treat each other. The House of Dolls (Harper, 2010) features Madison Blackberry who lives in a modern high rise but has her grandmother’s dollhouse with gorgeously dressed dolls named Wildflower, Rockstar and Miss Selene.

There were dresses that made the dolls feel like ice-cream sundaes, flowers, seashells, cocoons, butterflies, angels, goddesses, rock stars, heavenly stars, and moons.

Guy (a dark-skinned plastic doll in army fatigues) and B. Friend (a teddy bear) round out the group and Wildflower knew as soon as her arm brushed Guy’s that they should never be separated. As Madison longs for her busy mother’s company and grows tired of playing dolls, the dolls’ fates hang in the balance.

The combination of boredom and jealousy is a dangerous thing. Especially when the person feeling these things is so many times larger than you are.

Madison sends Guy off to war and things go downhill from there until Wildflower figures out a way to set them straight.

Because even though someone is small, her wishes can be big and powerful, especially if the wishes are about love.

One never really grows too old for the appeal of make believe and dolls. This book is for the girls who believe that and especially for those who need convincing.

Lynn: Wow – thanks, Cindy, for getting me to read this! Block packs SO much in this tiny book. Girls, big and small, will adore this for the lovely story and the captivating illustrations by Barbara McClintock. As the grandmother of all boys, I WANT this dollhouse and those dresses – oh my! But under the fashion froth and frills and sweet ending is a lot to think about: the awful ripple effect of pain and jealousy, the innate yearning of a child for a parent’s attention and the impact of that emotional neglect. Hurt begets hurt and a child uses the tools she has at hand. Here is a doll story that packs a punch for our time.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

4 Comments on "House of Dolls by Francesca Lia Block"

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  1. nigrelli@gmail.com' joanna says:

    Oh my. This just made my day. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy!

  2. Thinks looks fantastic! Can’t wait to read it. I am trying to read more blogs, ladies, but I always come “home” to yours.

  3. This looks like an interesting book. I am always looking for new book to add to my growing list of “must reads”

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