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The Cats in the Doll Shop Hardcover – November 10, 2011

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Frequently Bought Together

The Cats in the Doll Shop + The Doll Shop Downstairs + The Best-Loved Doll (An Owlet Book)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile; First Edition edition (November 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670012793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670012794
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 0.1 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,137,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...a sweet and old-fashioned story, similar in style to Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family, set in World War I-era New York. Sensitive readers will relate to Anna's desire to make everything right for her cousin..."
(School Library Journal, starred review)

"Filled with references to Jewish traditions and the rich history of tenement life in New York City, these fully realized characters could be best friends with the girls from Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family. A quiet treasure."

"...a charming period piece that capitalizes on the nostalgia for its historical era without losing its emotional resonance with young readers. The black-and-white line illustrations are pleasingly romantic, primarily featuring Anna and her siblings dressed much like a certain American Girl Doll, along with the occasional furry kitty. Between the cats, the dolls, and the cozy family drama, what’s not to love?"
(Bulletin for the Council of Children's Books)

"McDonough does a wonderful job of capturing Anna's thoughts and feelings and bringing the reader into her world. Anna's compassion for her cousin and the cats will endear her to readers. Fans of Fancy Nancy and the American Girl series will find this book delightful, and will be clamoring for a sequel."
(Library Media Connection)

About the Author

Yona Zeldis McDonough is a longtime doll lover and collector. She is also an award-winning author who has published numerous books for children and adults. She presently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.
Heather Maione loved dolls when she was a child, though not quite as much as she loved to draw. The illustrator of numerous children’s books, she lives on Long Island with her husband and two children.

More About the Author

Yona Zeldis McDonough is the author of five novels for adults, THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS, IN DAHLIA'S WAKE, BREAKING THE BANK (which has been optioned for a film) and A WEDDING IN GREAT NECK. Her fifth novel, TWO OF A KIND, will be out in September 2013.

She is also an award-winning children's book author with 22 children's books to her credit. THE DOLL SHOP DOWNSTAIRS received a starred review from Jewish Book World saying that it "will become a classic." In another starred review Kirkus called the sequel, THE CATS IN THE DOLL SHOP, "a quiet treasure." THE DOLL WITH THE YELLOW STAR won the 2006 Once Upon a World Award presented by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Her latest book LITTLE AUTHOR IN THE BIG WOODS, a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, will be published by Holt.

For over a dozen years, Yona has been the Fiction Editor at Lilith Magazine. She works independently to help aspiring writers polish their manuscripts. To arrange a book club visit, inquire about editorial services or just to say hi, please contact Yona via her website: or on the Facebook fan pages for her novels, which she hopes you'll "like."


When I was young, I didn't think about becoming a writer. In fact, I was determined to become a ballerina, because I studied ballet for many years, and by the time I was in high school, I was taking seven ballet classes a week. But I was always a big reader. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and I used to frequent all the different libraries in my neighborhood on a regular basis. I would look for books by authors I loved. I read my favorite books--ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, A LITTLE PRINCESS, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN--over and over again. I probably read each of those books twenty times in all. I read lots of other things too: I loved comic books and magazines, like Mad and Seventeen. But when you are reader, you just need to read. Sometimes you read books that change your life, like OF MICE AND MEN, which I read--and adored-- when I was in sixth grade. Other times, you read the latest adventures of Betty and Veronica. You'll read a three-day old newspaper some days or the back of the cereal box if that's all that there is available, because readers just need to read. So I kept reading, and I kept dancing too, though by the time I was a senior in high school, it was pretty clear to me that I was neither talented nor driven enough to become a professional ballet dancer and I stopped taking lessons and went off to college instead.

As a student at Vassar College, I never once took a writing course. I was not accepted into the poetry workshop I applied to, so I avoided all other writing classes, and instead focused on literature, language and art history, which was my declared major. I was so taken with the field that I decided to pursue my studies on a graduate level. I enrolled in a PhD program at Columbia University where I have to confess that I was miserable. I didn't like the teachers, the students or the classes. I found graduate school the antithesis of undergraduate education; while the latter encouraged experimentation, growth, expansion, the former seemed to demand a kind of narrowing of focus and a rigidity that was simply at odds with my soul. It was like business school without the reward of a well-paying job at the end. Everyone carried a briefcase. I too bought a briefcase, but since I mostly used it to tote my lunch and the NYT crossword puzzle, it didn't do much for my success as a grad student. But I have to thank the program at Columbia for being so very inhospitable, because it helped nudge me out of academia, where I so patently did not belong, and into a different kind of life. I was allowed to take classes in other departments, and by now I was recovered from my earlier rejection so I decided to take a fiction writing class--also, the class was open to anyone; I didn't have to submit work to be accepted. This class was my 'aha!' moment. The light bulb went off for me when I took that class. Suddenly, I understood what I wanted to do with my life. Now I just had to find a way to make a living while I did it.

I finished out the year at Columbia, got a job in which I had no interest whatsoever, and began to look for any kind of freelance writing that I could find. In the beginning, I wrote for very little money or even for free: I wrote for neighborhood newspapers, the alumni magazine of my college. I wrote brochures, book reviews, newsletters--anything and everything that anyone would ask me to write. I did this for a long time and eventually, it worked. I was able to be a little choosier about what I wrote, and for whom I wrote it. And I was able to use my clips to persuade editors to actually assign me articles and stories, instead of my having to write them and hope I could get then published.
But all the while I was also writing the kind of fiction--short stories, a novel--that had interested me when I was still a student at Columbia. And eventually I began to publish this work too.

I presently live in Brooklyn, NY with my husband and our two children and two small, yappy dogs. I have been setting my recent novels in my own backyard so to speak; Brooklyn has been fertile ground in all sorts of ways.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
Those books were skewed to a slightly older audience.
Linda Bernstein
I liked how Anna's relationship with her big sister Sophie changed as the book ended.
Andrea N. Richesin
I'm glad to say that she loved the book (the rat­ing is hers as well as mine).
Man of La Book

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark on March 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
My 7-year-old daughter really loved The Doll Shop Downstairs -- in fact I credit it for getting her excited about reading -- so we were anxious to pick up Ms. McDonough's "sequel." And it definitely didn't disappoint. Yona McDonough has the rare gift of being able to tell a good, moving story while also sneaking in lots of history, religion, and culture. The only disappointment, as with any good book, is that it ends. I'd also add from a parent's perspective that I find her books very enjoyable -- which isn't always the case with children's books. And I don't even like cats! An excellent book.
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Format: Hardcover
In a family of three girls the news of an addition to the family comes with mixed feelings. When Anna discovers her new cousin Tania is coming from Russia to spend the year with their family she's thrilled, though their shared age seems to be the only similarity as of yet. Anna's sisters find Tania's quietness and the food she hides odd and instantly dislike her, but Anna quickly accepts her by offering her a new doll she created specifically for Tania. With the addition of Tania the last thing the family needs is a pet, but it may be just the thing to bring Tania out of her shell and potentially solve another problem altogether.

Charming. Absolutely charming and beautiful storytelling are found within the pages of The Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough. Generally speaking I'm not incredibly fond of historically based novels & books for one reason or another, but this story was written so well that I couldn't help but be taken in by the lovely Anna. Her parents are recent immigrants to the US and have found a way to provide for themselves by creating and selling a line of dolls to companies like FAO Schwartz. For a ten or eleven year old girl I can think of no better place to be than in a family that has a never ending supply of dolls to create and play with, making it the perfect setting for the intended audience.

Obviously Anna's family is frugal though and the story isn't simply about the dolls and the doll shop, but about their cousin Tania and the cats that accompany her arrival. Anna was so welcoming to her cousin and it was wonderful to read about not only her desire to make her feel at home but her thoughts about her two sister's feelings about Tania.
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By debbie duel on December 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As the director of a humane education program that emphasizes compassion, responsibility and social action, I highly recommend Yona Zeldis McDonough's poignant turn of the century chapter book to any third, fourth or fifth grader who cares about animals. Maybe that's too narrow. Anyone who enjoys a good story -- one with suspense, conflict, family and cats -- should love this book. Readers will root for Anna and her immigrant cousin Tania while they are worrying about Ginger Cat and Plucky. And, readers will undoubtedly want to report the mean mustachioed man to the authorities and testify at his animal cruelty trial!
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A Kid's Review on May 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
My favorite part was when TRudie, anna and sophie found the cats. I liked it because I like dolls and her writing made the story seem real. And it was weird when Tania hides food everywhere. I would rate this book 8 stars especially if you like dolls.
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By S. Sears on February 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We were pleased to enjoy this book as we had previously read the first book in the series and liked that as well.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're a fan of the American Girl books, you'll love The Cats in the Doll Shop. This gem of a novel has all the right stuff for its targeted audience of girl readers. The young heroines of the novel talk, behave, and play like real children, not least in the ways they interact with their favorite dolls; those of us who play or have played with dolls will recognize ourselves here. And the detailed, loving way in which these dolls are described are sure to fascinate readers, (too bad they don't exist to accompany the book) and spark their imaginations in play with their own toys. But the real world is very much in evidence. As in the best children's books, The Cats in the Doll House treats some serious and disturbing issues, but in a form palatable for children. Set in 1915, a period of heightened immigration to the U.S., the story tells how the Breittlemann sisters help their newly arrived cousin heal from the traumatic legacy of poverty and adjust to life in the U.S. The girls encounter cruelty in the behavior of a neighbor who chases a cat and her newborn kittens from his fire escape--only the mother and one kitten survive. But as in the best children's books, good triumphs over evil in the end, conveying the message that hope and resilience can get you through the rough times. The Cats in the Doll Shop is destined to be a children's classic. (Note: This is actually the sequel to The Doll House Downstairs which introduces the Breittlemann family. But the books do not need to be read in order.)
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By Anna on February 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As both a friend-of-cats and a maker-of-dolls I had the lovely feeling that this story had almost been written for me. It is as gentle and lovely as the book before it, The Doll Shop Downstairs, and it was lovely to be able to spend more time with Anna and her family and get to know them a little better. This is exactly the kind of story I like to share with children I know because it is warm and flows beautifully and Yona Zeldis's writing is perfect for reading aloud (except that I never get away with just one chapter. But fortunately I'm very glad to keep going.)
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