Format: Picture book
Author: Julia Donaldson
Illustrator: Rebecca Cobb
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Children’s Books (published June 2013)
And now for something completely different from the author of The Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Child: Julia Donaldson has applied her gift for rhythmic language to an extraordinary story about imagination, loss, and memory.
“There once was a girl who had tiger slippers…” begins The Paper Dolls, and the reader follows the little girl through the creation of a chain of paper dolls with her mother (“They were Ticky and Tacky / and Jackie the Backie / and Jim with two noses / and Jo with the bow”) and her adventures with the dolls. The sweetly whimsical illustrations and simple, evocative writing carry us into the girl’s imagination, where the the paper dolls narrowly escape the claws and teeth of tiger slippers and a crocodile puppet and explore the world of a honey pot and a plate of toast at the breakfast table. Paper dolls are fleeting visitors, however, and when the little girl’s friends are left in a field and then snipped to pieces by a callous little boy, they are gone — but not really. The beauty of memory and the passage of time are vividly captured in just 32 spare pages that will be treasured for years to come. And of course, there’s a built-in follow-up activity; Big E and I had a great time making paper dolls and taking them on adventures after our first reading of this book.
Warning: may leave a lump in the grown-up reader’s throat, even after five readings. Not that I speak from experience.