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Brian Selznick is the author and illustrator of the New York Times best-selling The Invention of Hugo Cabret, winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal and a National Book nominee. He has also illustrated many other books for children, including Frindle by Andrew Clements, Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Mu oz Ryan, and The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley, which received a 2001 Caldecott Honor. Brian lives in Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California.
August 15, 2000. Little girls are in for a marvelous treat in this delicious fantasy that captures many of the rituals, fancies, and habits of girlhood with sweetness and honesty, while imparting gentle lessons about risk, self-fulfillment, and dealing with difference. Annabelle Doll lives with her family in their dollhouse in Kate's room: her family of Victorian china dolls had belonged to Kate's grandmother, and mother, and now belongs to Kate. Like the characters in Toy Story, the doll family has elaborate rituals for activity when the human family is asleep or occupied, and Annabelle's parents are extremely protective and fearful. They've all taken the Doll Oath to keep their lives secret and fear Permanent Doll State, when they would simply be inanimate at all times (Barbies never take the Oath, and are always inanimate, we learn). But Auntie Sarah has disappeared (45 years ago) and Annabelle, who's discovered her journal, longs to bring her back. Kate's pesky little sister Nora soon acquires a dollhouse of her own, and the Funcraft family, with their modern ways and funky plastic accoutrements, inspire Annabelle, who becomes best friends with Tiffany Funcraft. Tiffany and Annabelle form a private club, share secrets, and contrast their families in ways that will resonate with every girl who has ever wondered if her dolls talk to each other. In the end, they find Auntie Sarah and rescue Papa Doll from the fiendish clutches of the cat. The whole is fabulously illustrated by Selznick, whose pictures have a shapely richness that captures not only the sturdy tubbiness of the modern dolls, but the fragile rigidity of the Victorian ones. (Fiction. 8-12) Kirkus" "It is entertaining and satisfying, and likely to hold the attention of young readers, regardless of their interest in dolls." The New York Times NYTBR" January 2001. Annabelle Doll is eight years old, as she's been for over one hundred years, and she's starting to find her circumscribed life stifling: she and her family are played with by Kate (or, without permission, by Kate's little sister, Nora) or they engage in mild and quiet diversions like singalongs when the humans are out or asleep. Things have changed, however, with Annabelle's discovery of the diary of her Aunt Sarah, who disappeared forty-five years ago, and with the arrival of a lively plastic doll family, the Funcrafts, whose daughter Tiffany becomes Annabelle's bosom friend. The two doll girls decide to find Annabelle's missing aunt, but on the way they have to deal with obstacles such as the household cat and the Dolls' long-simmering family issues that surround Sarah's disappearance. The dolls-come-alive plot retains its eternal allure, and Martin and Godwin make particularly entertaining use of the contrast between the dignified, handmade Dolls and the intrepid, happy-go-lucky Funcrafts. The plotting doesn't really justify the book's length, however, since the pacing is slow and indistinct; there's also some contrivance to aspects of the Dolls' life (the chronology doesn't quite account for some concrete details or family feelings). It's therefore not up to the standard of living-doll titles such as Waugh's The Mennyms (BCCB 5/94) and Griffiths' Caitlin's Holiday (10/90), but it's still a cozy and gently imaginative adventure, and its convenient chapter breaks add to its utility as a readaloud. Selznick's soft pencil illustrations thickly populate the pages in spot art and full-page views; while there's more visual similarity between the Dolls and the Funcrafts than readers will expect, the embracing design is cozy, and readers will particularly appreciate the inventive endpapers advertising each family of dolls. Review Code: Ad -- Additional book of acceptable quality for collections needing more material in the area. BCCB" Horn Book Guide, Spring 2001. Bothered that she hasn't seen her aunt Sarah for forty-five years, Annabelle Doll embarks on a search that takes her out of her protective dollhouse. She braves dangerous territory beyond the nursery to discover not only the answers to family secrets but also a whole new family of dolls. Black-and-white pencil drawings illustrate this lively addition to the doll-fantasy genre. Horn Book" August 2000. Passed down from one generation to the next, the Doll family has lived in the same dollhouse, located in the same room of the Palmer family's house, for 100 years. While the world outside has changed, their own lives have notDwith two significant exceptions. First, Auntie Sarah Doll suddenly and mysteriously disappeared 45 years ago, when the Doll family belonged to Kate Palmer's grandmother. More recently, the modern, plastic Funcraft family has moved into Kate's little sister's room. Following the time-honored traditions of such well-loved works as Rumer Godden's The Doll's House, The Mennyms by Sylvia Waugh and Pam Conrad's and Richard Egielski's The Tub People, Martin and Godwin inventively spin out their own variation on the perennially popular theme of toys who secretly come to life. By focusing on Annabelle's and Tiffany Funcraft's risky mission to find Auntie Sarah, the authors provide plenty of action and suspense, yet it is their skillfully crafted details about the dolls' personalities and daily routines that prove most memorable. Selznick's pencil illustrations cleverly capture the spark of life inhabiting the dolls' seemingly inanimate bodies. The contemporary draftsmanship frees the art from nostalgia even while the layoutDwhich presents the illustrations as standalone compositions as well as imaginatively integrated borders and vignettesDreinforces the old-fashioned mood of the doll theme. Doll lovers may well approach their imaginative play with renewed enthusiasm and a sense of wonder after reading this fun-filled adventure. Ages 7-10. (Aug. ) PW" August 2000. It's not easy to write a good book about dolls. There are so many things to work out. Are the dolls "alive"? Is there consistency to their existence? How do they navigate outside their home? Martin and Godwin not only set up a realistic doll world but also provide a credible mystery. Annabelle and her Doll family have lived in the dollhouse, now owned by Kate, since it came from England several generations before. In 1955, Aunt Sarah Doll disappeared, and Annabelle, with the help of Sarah's journal, is determined to find her. The authors add a wickedly funny touch with the introduction of the Funmarts, a dollhouse family meant to placate Kate's little sister, who's always messing with the Dolls. The Funmarts are a brash, breezy family of plastic dolls who can't believe the Dolls don't have a microwave. Still, Anabelle and Tiffany Funmart become friends and are soon taking great risks to find out what happened to Aunt Sarah. The story gets a wonderful boost from Brian Selznick's pencil drawings, which include charming endpapers. He catches every bit of humor, especially when he's drawing those Funmarts. Booklist"