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William's Doll Paperback – May 1, 1985

41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An excellent book about a boy named William who wants the forbidden -- a doll. The long-awaited realistic handling of this theme makes it a landmark book."-- "School Library Journal"

About the Author

Charlotte Zolotow—author, editor, publisher, and educator—has one of the most distinguished reputations in the field of children's literature. She has written more than seventy books, many of which are picture-book classics, such as Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present and William's Doll. She lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.



William Pene du Bois, as both artist and writer, charmed generations of readers with his distinct combination of inventiveness and elegant simplicity. Two of his most popular books are The Twenty One Balloons, winner of the 1948 Newbery Medal, and Lion, a Caldecott Honor Book in 1957. With handsome, delicate artwork, William Pene du Bois tailored his unmistakable style to suit Charlotte Zolotow's groundbreaking and tender story of a boy who wants a doll.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Harper & Row; Reprint edition (1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064430677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064430678
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 109 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
An oddly tender tale about a boy and his desire to own a doll of his own. Books that break stereotypes rarely do it as intelligently and simply as Charlotte Zolotow's remarkable, "William's Doll". Usually if a picture book has something to say, it'll announce the fact to you with great pomp and flair, and maybe a little more pomp. It'll take its message and shove it down your throat, attempting to cram every little bit of lesson into you. This is not the case with this book. In "William's Doll" you've a delicate tale told in such a way that its message, while remaining very powerful, is spoken in a small quiet voice.

William is a boy who wants a doll. He wants to play with it and hug it. He wants to tuck it into bed at night and wake it up in the morning and pretend that it's his own child. Needless to say, this plan is met with not a little bit of derision by his peers. His brother thinks it's creepy and the boy next door even goes so far as to call William a sissy. As for William's father, he decides to stem the boy's desires by purchasing manly toys for him. Basketballs, and trains, and tools. The only one who understands William is his grandmother, a wise woman who gives William his heart's desire and patiently explains to his father that there is nothing odd or abnormal about a boy wanting a doll. After all, if girls play with dolls to be good mothers why shouldn't boys play with dolls to be good fathers?

There's a bit of a satirical bite to the end of this picture book that I enjoyed. When the grandmother explains why Williams needs a doll, she tells his father that he needs it so that he'll know how to take care of his own baby, "and bring him the things he wants, like a doll so that he can practice being a father".
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A. Price on May 3, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
UPDATE! I now have a 4 year old son with whom I read this wonderful book. And guess what? He likes to play with dolls, trains, balls and my iPad. I am so pleased to read this to him and to support him in whatever style of play he wishes to engage.

This was helpful for me when I was a little boy who liked to play with dolls and got teased for it. My mom bought it and read it to me and it was just the thing. Now I'm pleased to be able to read it to my 3 yr old daughter.
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful By C. Jung on January 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm sure this is a wonderful book for boys who have been mocked. HOWEVER, this would NOT be a good book for boys who have never faced such mockery! My 5 year old son loves his "babies," and we have always been surrounded by family, friends, and teachers who support boys and girls playing with dolls. I am glad I read this book first, as I would never want to introduce him to the kind of mockery and belittlement that William faces. William's grandmother buys him a doll and defends his desire, so in that sense it is a "positive" book, but for my son, it would be "negative" in that it would actually introduce him to shame that he has never felt.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book that shows how our preconceived notions twist and make ugly a child's innocent desire to practice being a father. The author shows us that playing with dolls is not just for girls, rather it's a way of allowing our sons to get in touch with the more gentle and loving side of themselves.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus VINE VOICE on November 3, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a children's librarian, I wander through the children's book section on Amazon quite often. When I found William's Doll, I knew our library had to have it. The day I brought it in to share with second grade, one sharp boy spied the book with, "She has William's Doll. Hahahaha." Then boys surrounding William (I deliberately picked this class because "William" is in it) began to laugh and call him names. Immediately, I squashed the teasing. We talked about dolls, the various kinds, what dolls are for, and why William wanted one. We talked about whose daddies changed diapers, put babies to bed, and so on, and why they did these things. We talked about maturity and immaturity. I asked if second grade could be mature. One boy blurted, no, we're just kids. So we talked about maturity again.

William wanted a doll because he envied the neighbor girl who had one. He wanted to change it, sing to it, coo with it, put it to bed. His brother and brother's friend walked in while William was acting out these emotionally charged moments. Of course, they laughed and called him names. His daddy gave him a basketball and goal, and a train set. William mastered layups, goal throwing, then beat his brother and friend. He used engineering (guy) skills to build stations and storage areas. Finally, granny bought him a doll, exactly the one he wanted with eyes that went blink and clicked when they closed, and told the worrying dad that William wanted to grow up to be a good father who helped with the tending of a baby.

My second grade class took in the entire story without once snickering. They were totally on William's side in acquiring a doll. Books cause adventures. Magic happens. This book is highly recommended!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
We think this book is great for all children, but especially for boys. We think this book is great for all parents, but especially for parents of boys. We know that all kids need someone to love!
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