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Doll Bones Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416963987
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416963981
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-7-At 12 years old, lifelong friends Zach, Poppy, and Alice are ferociously clinging to their childhoods. Using old Barbies, pirate action figures, dolls from Good Will, and their imaginations, they have created an exciting world of characters in an elaborate game. Figuring heavily in their plotline is the Queen, an antique doll of bone china that belongs to Poppy's mother and is strictly off-limits to the kids. She's also incredibly creepy. When Zach's dad throws away his action figures, the boy is so devastated that he ends the game abruptly, leaving the girls hurt and confused. Shortly thereafter, Poppy reveals that the Queen is made of the bones of a dead girl named Eleanor who has been communicating with her at night. The doll appears to be filled with Eleanor's ashes, and she has promised Poppy that she will make their lives miserable if they don't journey to Ohio, find her grave, and bury her properly. After much persuading, Zach and Alice agree to the journey. The Queen gets scarier and scarier as unexplained events begin to occur along the way. Black has created protagonists who readers will care about, and amusing secondary characters, like a pink-haired librarian and a crazy bus passenger who seems to be able to see Eleanor. This novel is a chilling ghost story, a gripping adventure, and a heartwarming look at the often-painful pull of adulthood. Black-and-white illustrations actually tone down the scare factor a little, making this a perfect starter story for budding horror fans.-Mandy Laferriere, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TXα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* A trio of adolescents goes on a quest to satisfy the demands of a ghost. Sounds like standard middle-grade fare, but in Black’s absolutely assured hands, it is anything but. Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been playing the same make-believe game for years, one involving pirates and mermaids and, of course, the Great Queen—a creepy, bone-china doll at Poppy’s house. Then Poppy reveals that she’s been haunted by a girl whose ground-up bones lie inside the Great Queen, so the doll must be properly buried. Begrudgingly, the three agree to play one last game and hope against hope for “a real adventure, the kind that changed you.” With heart-wrenching swiftness, Black paints a picture of friends at the precipice of adulthood; they can sense the tentative peace of youth that is about to be demolished. The tightly focused, realistic tale—bladed with a hint of fairy-tale darkness—feels cut from the very soul of youth: there is no sentimentality, no cuteness, only the painful, contradictory longing to move forward in one’s life without leaving anything behind. Stories about the importance of stories (“Maybe no stories were lies,” thinks Zach) don’t come much more forthright and affecting than this one. Wheeler’s sketches ameliorate some of the tension and dread—not a bad thing. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Black’s best-selling Spiderwick Chronicles pave the way for this powerful stand-alone, which comes with an author tour, in-theater promos, and more. Grades 5-8. --Daniel Kraus

More About the Author

Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, The Good Neighbors graphic novel trilogy (with Ted Naifeh), the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, and her new dark fantasy novel, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award, a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award and a Newbery Honor. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door. 

Customer Reviews

It's everything a good kids book should be!
Zili Robins
Please pick up Doll Bones and enjoy sweet, quirky, well developed characters who go on a journey to solve a very old mystery.
Sophie Riggsby
I'd highly recommend this for older tweens/young teens who can handle a good scare.
Jacquelyn M. Sylvan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jacquelyn M. Sylvan on May 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since this is a middle grade, I bought this more out of author loyalty than any sincere interest. I'm very glad I did. Even from an adult reader's perspective, Doll Bones has a lot to offer.
What most impressed me is Black's perfect recall. She remembers EXACTLY what it's like to be that age, not a kid, but not a teenager, either, in that moment of life when things are just starting to get really complicated. Be prepared for some fierce nostalgia.
The scares aren't off the kiddie menu, either, and I would caution parents to be aware of that. I've been reading Stephen King since I was twelve (I'm in my 30s now) and I had very unsettling dreams while reading Doll Bones.
I almost gave this four stars because of the ending. I found it to be very abrupt--but then again, that could have more to do with the styling of the genre than the author's plan. Middle grade doesn't usually linger long after the climax.
I'd highly recommend this for older tweens/young teens who can handle a good scare.
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I don't watch much horror in general. I'm what you might call a chicken. When I do see it, though, I'm not particularly disturbed by random splattering and gore. The psychological stuff is far more of a lure for me. If I'm going to be honest, though, one of the scariest things I ever saw was on the cheesiest of television shows. It was this insider look into the world of ghosts and on the show we heard about a haunted home. It was a well-lit suburban house and we watched as a woman took off her shoes, walked over to the couch, and took a nap. When she woke up, the shoes were next to her. And that right there is what scares me half to death. Which is probably why a book like Doll Bones by Holly Black works for me on a horror level. Yet for all its creepy packaging, Black's latest hides at its heart a remarkable, thoughtful take on what it means to grow up and pass from childhood into adolescence. Dark enough to attract fans of Goosebumps and the like yet able to make them actually think a bit about their own lives on a deeper level, Black strikes the perfect balance between the sensational and the smart.

By and large middle schoolers do not play with dolls. But Zach, Poppy and Alice have been playing "the game" for years and it's only gotten better with time. Using dolls of every type they spin wild tales and live out personalities different from their own. That is, until Zach's dad throws out his toys in an effort to stop the game. Ashamed, Zach lies to his friends that he no longer wants to play. This act leads to unforeseen consequences when, in desperation, Poppy releases a bone china doll from her mother's cabinet, only to find herself haunted by the ghost of a long dead girl.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By thereader18 on May 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A copy of this book was provided for free by Simon & Schuster.

Doll Bones by Holly Black is a spooky ghost story. This is the type of book that I think kids will be clamoring for. Holly Black writes with a style that creates a spooky atmosphere. The story is that three children Polly, Zach and Alice are all best friends. They have been playing a make believe game with figures and dolls for years. When it seems like the game might end forever, the trio embark on a quest, one last game. Polly says she had a vision of a ghost possessing the doll they had dubbed the Queen. Now they are on a quest to bury her with her family.
This book is aimed at the upper elementary level ( grades 4 and up). As far as ghost stories goes this book is good for that level. It is spooky but not extremely scary. I think that the story is more interesting than the typical Goosebumps book. This book differs from a Goosebumps book because it is well written. The characters are developed and you care about all of them. None of the three main characters seem like cardboard cutouts. I would recommend it to very imaginative children between grades 4 and 6 because they would appreciate the game that the characters play.

I rate this book 5 stars for being a spooky well written ghost story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T. Horn on July 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I liked this book very much. It was right up my alley, mystery-ish, adventurous and somewhat creepy. There's a teensy bit of romance hidden in the pages too. I read this in one sitting. It's the Boxcar Children meets Harry Potter. Recommend this book for car rides, long airplane flights and pretty much every scenario that involves you sitting and trying to avoid boredom.

Bella, age nine
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By MTK on August 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Doll Bones has a cute cover and a great title and sounds like it would be nice and creepy. But I'm 56 percent into my Kindle version and it is not happening for me. I keep picking up my kindle, reading a few pages and putting it down. I don't mind set-up; but IMO I'm too far into the story for it to all be set-up. I should have had something scary/creepy/threatening happening by now that makes me want to keep clicking the pages. Instead I keep looking at that little bar graph at the bottom of my kindle to see how far I am. This is not to say it's a bad book--but it is more a travel adventure book, as opposed to a scary/creepy book. There are a lot of great reviews for this book, which I looked at before buying. I figure I can't be the only person who is frustrated at the pace or scratching my head wondering when this is going to get good? Sorry, but I gave up on it.
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