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Doll Bones
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on June 7, 2016
This story did not have a enough redeeming characteristics to justify the theft of a boat and a bicycle and breaking into a library. At least with the library the children got caught. The changes in friendships that kids go through growing out of make believe play to more real adventures was nicely addressed. The book is best for ten to eleven year olds, so the theft did not sit well with me.
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on December 28, 2016
This was a good book. The story is imaginative, the characters - though young - are not portrayed as helpless or weak, and it - amazingly - features East Liverpool, OH. Born and raised in ELO, this is the first non-fiction novel I've ever heard of to feature the old hometown. And, while it's not even close to its former glory when it was Pottery Capital of the World, the author was respectful of the town and its history. I respect that. All in all, I found it to be an interesting and engaging story. I would recommend this - especially to the tween/teen crowd.
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on September 25, 2017
Overall, this book was pretty good. I figured the "ghost story" angle would play a slightly larger role. The budding romance angle was a bit cliche and possibly a bit misplaced. Still, this was a fairly well-paced, semi-spooky adventure story and tale about the changing nature of friendship.
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on May 22, 2014
See full review at The Indigo Quill . blogspot . com

How deliciously creepy is the cover of this book?? Oh my goodness, I kept passing it at the book store and finally decided to buy it! It also helped that it had a "Newbery Honor" sticker on the front, too. And the part where it says "New York Times best-selling author and co-creator of The Spiderwick Chronicles."Basically, the entire cover worked in Holly Black's favor. Well played, Miss Black, and kudos to your talented illustrator, Eliza Wheeler.

Doll Bones is an adorably sinister book with just the perfect mixture of creepy and innocence to keep a reader hanging on for the ride. It isn't necessarily a children's horror book, but more so a story of friends who are making the transition from adolescence to young adulthood.

I don't want to give the wrong idea by saying "horror" because this book isn't scary, but rather creepy [at times]. I was actually hoping for a little more creepiness, but for the young mind who likes mystery and perhaps has a weak tolerance for things that may give them nightmares, this is a good selection. The doll in this book is sinister and ghostly, but the "scary" factor is fairly minimal. Just don't let your kid read it in the dark.

The main character, Zach, was more developed than the two girls as the book is written from his point of view. And although people said it was difficult to tell Poppy and Alice apart, I digress. Poppy was more of a tomboy with an unfettered creative spirit, while Alice was much more genteel, feminine, and way less adventurous (I often questioned if she was at all). For the most part, the characters were believable with their dispositions and angst and their interactions reminded me of all the make-believe I used to play with my friends during my childhood.

The only other thing I would complain about is that there were a couple spelling errors I had caught. Minimal, but they were still there. This seems to be more common these days, and with all the technology and editors we have out there, it really shouldn't be.

I enjoyed this book, not necessarily for richness of content, but for the sentimentality of watching the characters grow. The Queen played her part well, too, but I definitely don't want her visiting my dreams!
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on May 8, 2014
So I recently reviewed a great Horror novel for Young Adults for our library, and now I get to review one for Junior Fiction. Doll Bones has everything you could want in a Junior Fiction horror novel: an old doll in a case with a story, make-believe that just might be real, and a quest with just the right scare factor to be thrilling, not nightmare inducing (hey we are talking a JF book here). This book is a Newbery Honor book, and when my dog ate my first copy (seriously, she shredded it) I wanted to read this badly enough I bought another copy.

Our main character is Zachary Barlow (Zach). He and his two best friends Alice and Poppy have been playing a game of make-believe so long it has taken on a life of its own. The story involves pirates, thieves and a Great Queen (the creepy old doll in the cabinet). But now Zach is getting older and his Dad does not think a thirteen year old boy, star of the middle-school basket ball team should be playing action-figures with girls. Alice is an orphan being raised by a hyper-protective Grandmother and is thinking she might want to try out for a play. Poppy is a red-haired firecracker who makes up stories for the Game, and thinks this might be the time for one last epic story….

So I won’t go spoiling the plot for anyone, but it is a great tale, and like I mentioned, some chilling moments, but nothing gruesome or terribly scary. At the heart of this book is a mystery, and a quest and the question, are we ever too old to play make-believe? This would make a great story to read this summer while traveling, or under the covers late at night.
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on July 31, 2016
Thanks Holly Black for this creepy little read ! Middle school chapter book. After reading this I wondered if my dolls were watching me. I also liked the history about bone china, what the doll was made of. I will be reading more of Holly Black' s dark little stories. Creepy fun read .
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on March 6, 2014
Zack, Poppy, and Alice are twelve year old friends that meet almost everyday to play imaginary games with dolls with characters and worlds they have created. Poppy's mother has an old bone china doll in a glass case that they call the Queen. The children liked to play they are trying to remove the curse from the Queen and free her from her glass castle. Only, one day Zack's dad throws away his male action figures, forcing Zack to quit the game. Soon strange things begin to happen. Zack feels an eerie presence that makes him feel uneasy and afraid of the dark and windy night. Poppy and Alice send Zack a note that they have to meet about something important. When the girls come to Zack's house in the middle of the night, Zack sneaks out to find out what the girls are wanting. Poppy reveals that she has taken the Queen from the glass case, and now is dreaming of a ghost girl who is demanding that her doll body be buried. The girl's burned bone fragments are contained in the doll's body. The three friends set out in the middle of the night to go to another state to try to find the graveyard where the dead girl's family is buried. As the angry ghost doll is leading the children to the town in which she died,, many strange occurrences happen. The children must solve the mystery of her death and find where she wants to be buried, or she promises something awful will happen to them.
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on December 7, 2013
I love the cover and title. That's a given.

I immediately liked the story from the moment I picked this book up. The characters are identifiable and the story has an easy flow to it. I felt like I was a kid right along with 'Zach' 'Alice' and 'Poppy', even though I almost always played dolls by myself when I was younger.

I enjoyed the way the friends interacted and the way they played. Playing pretend was their 'game' and it was a very interesting game that went beyond picking up any ol' doll and pretending that it could speak. The game had a system and rules. Much thought went into the finer details - thoughts that easily borrowed from, and spilled into, reality.

The story was moving along steadily and then the 'doll bones' part was explained and that's where my interest started to taper off a little bit. I'm not sure it I just didn't like the way it was introduced or if it seemed too juvenile for me. I kept reading and things picked back up. My evaluation for the story bounced between 3 and 4 stars a few times. There were parts that I really liked and then other parts I didn't like as much. The second half steadily improved (less juvenile and not as thin) and by the end of the book my verdict was to rate it a solid 4 stars. The story line went to interesting places and the characters were executed well. There was a well developed sense of the pain and joy of growing up and that is one of its strongest features.

Doll Bones was not my favorite, but I thought it was good, enjoyable, and had some strong elements.
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on June 7, 2017
I teach 5th grade and this kept my kiddos engaged in learning at the end of school. There are some great lessons on TPT that go with this book. The students (boys and girls equally) didn't want to stop reading.
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on April 13, 2014
This story caught my attention from the first page and kept me interested until the end. I liked the characters who were on that edge between childhood and being young adults. Your peers drive you to leave your childhood interests behind and join them in the pseudo world of being grown up and I feel the author captured that confusion and frustration well. There was also the supernatural element of an eerie doll with a scary history. This is what will propel the three main characters into a journey to discover not only the truth about the doll, but about themselves.

I gave the book four stars instead of five because I came away from the book wanting a bit more supernatural interaction with the doll. As written it is complete and enjoyable, but I feel it could have been better with a stronger ghost presence especially at the conclusion.
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