From Publishers Weekly
In a doll story that will win over even confirmed tomboys, McClintock (Molly and the Magic Wishbone) introduces a Victorian child who, despite her frock and pinafore, enjoys digging in the dirt and climbing trees. After Aunt Edme sends Charlotte a doll dressed "in linen and lace and delicate silk ribbons," the child brings the doll up to her bedroom (home to birds' nests, a bug collection and a pet snake) and lays out the house rules: "No tea parties, no being pushed around in frilly prams. You'll just have to get used to the way we do things." And the doll, whom Charlotte names Dahlia, does just that. She joins the girl and her teddy, Bruno, as they make mud cakes and even tastes one and participates in Bruno's favorite game of "toss-up-in-the-air-and-land-in-a-heap." When Charlotte washes the mud from the doll's face, her "prim" painted mouth "blur[s] into a soft smile." Dahlia even survives a fall from a tree, although her finery gets crumpled and torn. Readers will hold their breath when the child shows her tattered doll to seemingly priggish Aunt Edme, who responds to the beaming Dahlia's condition with a smile of her own. McClintock's detailed tableaux conveying the garb, architecture and furnishings of the era perfectly fit the mood of the story, their delicate lines and coloring belied by the robust action they convey. A timeless charmer. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1-Charlotte is not your typical young Edwardian heroine. When readers first meet her, she is playing happily in the mud with Bruno, her rough-and-tumble teddy bear. When Aunt Edme gives her a doll that is dressed in linen and lace, and looks frail and prim, the child is skeptical. Dahlia, however, belies the frilly name her new owner has bestowed upon her by enjoying a mud pie, participating in a race down a steep hill, and falling out of a tree. The last hurdle to their friendship is cleared when Aunt Edme visits and pronounces the doll well loved. The illustrations show Charlotte as a girl of energy and action, with a bedroom filled with birds' nests and collections of cattails. The pictures are packed with detail but pastel in color, leaving viewers with the impression of a time gone by. Charlotte is a girl of long ago who has all the qualities we encourage today-curiosity, confidence, and strength. She is surrounded by supportive women-an aunt who invites her to play freely, and a mother who gives her daughter a safety net from which to grow. Dahlia will be loved by young girls who are forging their first friendships, both with real and imaginary friends.
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Susan Marie Pitard, formerly at Weezie Library for Children, Nantucket Atheneum, MA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.