This book is one I haven’t read in a very long time, but I remember it. My older sister introduced me to this book, much like she did several other books I have loved over the years. As such, I associate this book with her in my memories, though I can’t say if she read it to me or I read it for myself. In all honesty, it could very well have been both.
Anyway, The Doll People is sort of like Toy Story. The dolls can talk and move and even play instruments in their little doll house, but must always return to where they were last left for fear of humans catching them. The rules are a bit more dire than Toy Story however, because if a doll is caught moving by a human it will freeze for 24 hours, in something they refer to as “Doll State”. If the doll is caught in really incriminating circumstances they freeze forever, a state known as “Permanent Doll State” (it’s a children’s book, what did you expect it to be called?). Annabelle, who is one of the two main characters of this story, is a doll made of china who has been around for over a hundred years. She and her family belong to Kate Palmer, the start really takes off when Kate’s sister Nora gets a doll house filled with a family of dolls made of plastic, The Fun-crafts’. At first glance this story looks like the type of book written to teach kids acceptance. Tiffany, the other main character of this story is the daughter of the Fun-crafts family and she’s new and different, certainly not as pretty as little china Annabelle, the cover would suggest this book will be all about Annabelle and Tiffany’s families learning to coexist, but that’s not it at all. In fact, Annabelle and Tiffany become fast friends. Together they form group called Society for the Exploration and Location of Missing People (SELMP for short). See, Annabelle’s Aunt Sarah went missing 45 years ago, and when Annabelle finds her journal she and Tiffany decide to try to follow the clues left in the journal and find Aunt Sarah. That’s right, the book’s a children’s mystery about a missing doll.
Okay, so Cuckoo’s Calling is not the only mystery book I’ve liked. It’s the first to involve murder and the first written for someone to have hit an age with double digits, but I guess I’ve always liked a little mystery in my stories. I think what I liked best about this book is, it was fun to read. I loved Toy Story, but delving deeper into the idea of dolls having their own lives was really enjoyable to me. I also liked that they gave a reason for needing to not be seen, something Toy Story didn’t bother to do (not that I don’t understand why they didn’t bother, I’ve just always been that kid asking why all the time). I also read this when I was in the stage of moving away from the simple and fun stories I read as a child. In 2000, when this came out, I was 10…I thought I was getting so grown and I had just read To Kill a Mockingbird…which was just a bit too adult for me. So I sort of backtracked and this book just really helped remind me the simple, fun and happy ending stories are still good.