Friday, August 27, 2010

House of Dolls by Francesca Lia Block, illustrated by Barbara McClintock

In her first middle grade novel, Francesca Lia Block tones down her I-have-just-ingested-a-large-amount-of-unknown-substances style and creates a charmingly brilliant story a little along the lines of Rumer Godden's The Doll's House, although with her own unmistakable style.

Wildflower, Rockstar, and Miss Selene live in a fabulous doll house. They have their friends, Guy and B. Friend, and they have their amazing and wonderful dresses, created by their owner's grandmother. But the little girl who owns them, Madison Blackberry, is not happy. Like many unhappy people, she decides since the dolls have the love and care she desires and doesn't have, she will punish them. Each of the dolls deals with grief and loneliness in their own way, until Madison's grandmother makes things right and there is a happy ending for all.

Block's elaborate and wild style is toned down just enough to give younger readers a delicious experience without completely bewildering them. Readers will revel in the descriptions of the elaborate dresses and feel the dolls' grief at their losses, as well as sympathizing with Madison's anger and hurt. Barbara McClintock's illustrations are the perfect counterpart, full of delicate detail but keeping the focus on the story. She brings to life Block's bespangled words and takes the reader into the world of The House of Dolls.

Verdict: Delightful! If I hadn't already used up my juvenile fiction budget for the year.....

ISBN: 006113094X; Published June 2010 by Harpercollins; Borrowed from the library

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