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Dahlia (Boston Globe-Horn Book Honors (Awards)) Hardcover – August 1, 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Susan Marie Pitard, formerly at Weezie Library for Children, Nantucket Atheneum, MA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 370L (What's this?)
  • Series: Boston Globe-Horn Book Honors (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374316783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374316785
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.5 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Now when I was a child I hated dolls. Hated them with a passion. Baby dolls especially raised my ire, but fortunately I received relatively few of them. Like many girls (more than you would think) I was more interested in stuffed animals and, on occasion, trucks and farm equipment toys. No silly frilly dollies for me, thank you very much. So I think a five-year-old version of myself would have been the perfect receptacle for Barbara McClintock's wonderful, "Dahlia". This is one of those rare books that tries to encourage girls to like dolls, but to do so in their own individual ways. For the girl-child that eschews the pink delicacy of your average Madame Alexander porcelain creation for rough n' tumble Tonka toys, this book makes an ideal gift.

Charlotte leads a great life. She gets to play outside with her stuffed bear Bruno and make as many mud pies as she would like. Then, one day, she receives a beautiful doll from her stuffy and elderly Aunt Edme. Charlotte and Bruno are not at all certain they will like this new doll (christened Dahlia). They explain to her that she does not belong to a tea-party-frilly-pram girl. She belongs to a digging-in-dirt-and-climbing-trees girl. Dahlia accompanies the two as they go about their day and it soon becomes clear that she's enjoying herself. The three win a wagon race against the local boys, make more mud cupcakes, plant rocks, and climb trees. And when an overly ambitious Dahlia goes a little further out onto a limb than she should have, Charlotte finds she may really love her little doll after all.

The book is set against a Victorian backdrop, a setting that cleverly places Charlotte in that nebulous age where acting like a "boy" wasn't frowned on yet. The story itself is great.
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This is an amazing book. I ordered like 100 used children's books to understand the field and this was one of my favorites. It's perfect. Great especially for tomboys who still like dolls? And everyone else will hopefully enjoy it as much as I did.
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The story of a little girl and her reluctant affection for her doll reminded me of my own childhood. I was a stuffed animals fan and dolls were merely ornaments for my room, given to me by relatives didn't know me very well. When my own daughter was born, I at last understood a little girl's true love for and friendship with a doll, as my daughter cherished her two favorite dolls as if they were real children.

I purchased Dahlia for my daughter, who just had a baby and named her Abigail Dahlia - an unusual name to be sure. And just like my daughter (a scientist), smart and kind, the book Dahlia creates a story of another bright little girl who did not want to be relegated to the role that little women were assigned years ago. The tale evolves in a natural and convincing way and speaks to children today - such is McClintock's gift for story telling. Dahlia is a tribute to Victorian tales, written with 20th century perspective and seasoned with a timeless quality.

Most appealing are the delicate, 'period' illustrations. This is an unusual book for the discerning adult who want to offer a singular opportunity to recapture a bygone era along with the gift of reading to a contemporary child.
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Format: Hardcover
We checked this out from the library and LOVE it. It's one of the few picture books out there that has very detailed pictures. My daughter is a confirmed girly-girl and LOVED seeing another little girl play in the mud. She loved the doll before her transformation and afterwards.

When I first read this book I thought "They just don't make books like this anymore". Well, they do! : D
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Format: Hardcover
Wonderful sweet story about a little girl who is a tomboy, but still a little girl! She loves her new doll vigorously, though not in the proper Victorian manner that most would have expected, given the illustrations which place her in the early 1900's. Her Auntie, who gifted her the doll, responds in a loving, 21st century manner as well. The artistry is adorable and well done also.
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Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful story! I read this to my 3.5 year old daughter, who like Charlotte (and myself when that age) loves to collect rocks, sticks, feathers and bugs and make wonderful mudpies, decorated with rocks, leaves and feathers....and also can be best friends with and nurture a well-loved stuffed animal or doll. She loves this book, Dahlia, just as much as I do : ) It brings the joy and wonderment of a childhold well spent to life!
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By Ulyyf on November 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When Charlotte got a fancy, frilly doll as a present, I don't think dismayed is the right word. It's clear from her room (filled with bird nests and dragonflies) that she's not a doll kind of girl. Still, she makes the best of it, she and her bear... and they realize, eventually, that there's no reason you can't play with a fancy doll in the same way you'd play with any other toy.

The revelation at the end that the doll was bought specifically so she could be played with in mud puddles and tossed out of trees is about as true-to-life as it gets. What else is a doll FOR, anyway?
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Format: Hardcover
This book has become one of our daughter's favorites. In her words:

I like the pictures in the book because they look so real and kind of old fashioned. I love the picture of Charlotte's room. It has such nice things, there are bird nests, a seashell collection, and she even has a snake. I also like how they make Bruno move. He looks so cute in the picture when he's holding on Dahlia's hand when she is hurt. I love the book because it has so much adventure.
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