Doll Bones (hardcover)
by Holly Black
AR Level 5.4, 7 points
If this book was to be made into a movie, it would be a horror flick. I’m not kidding. It’s about a creepy doll that is made of ashes and bones of a dead little girl. When people see the doll, they often see the little girl instead of the doll. AND she comes to people in their dreams, and moves on her own while they’re sleeping. Seriously? A children’s book? And a Newbery Honor book, to boot. I’m not saying it’s not a good book. I can totally see why it would be chosen as an Honor book. It definitely garnered an emotional response from this reader!
So Zach, Poppy, and Alice play this game in a make-believe world, even though they’re kind of too old to be playing with dolls. It’s just their thing. They have a whole storyline and everything. Poppy’s mom has this creepy doll, whom they call the Queen. As it turns out, the Queen is made of bone-china, and comes to Poppy one night (in her dreams) and tells Poppy her story. Basically, the doll is literally made out of a girl named Eleanor Kirchner, who died in 1895. Her dad, who made china, cut her up and put her into his kiln to cremate her. He then made the doll in her likeness (out of some of her ashes) and stuffed the rest of her ashes and bone fragments into the doll. The kids go on a journey to bury her in her home town. Poppy is most passionate about doing this, which she sees as an adventure similar to their stories they tell. Alice goes along with it, even though her grandmother will freak out if she gets caught. Zach goes, but is more cynical, until Eleanor actually comes to him in a dream and then destroys their campsite.
Yep- destroys their campsite. And it’s all downhill from there, in terms of reading in dim lighting or by yourself at night or with any sort of doll in your house. Seriously, it’s creepy. It had my heart racing several times. There’s this one library scene, the climax, I’d say… just read it for yourself. I am totally NOT a horror movie kind of person. I’m a huge wimpy wussy chicken. I used to love the Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine (Fear Street series, pre-Goosebumps) books, but now, I totally puss out if something is even remotely supernatural.
What I liked about this book was that it was sustainable. There is more to this book than just a freaky ghost doll. It is about friendship and what that means when you’re 12 or 13. Plus, you really want to know what happened with Eleanor, and not just so she stops haunting your dreams. Plus, when you find out later that people see her as a person and not a doll, you want to go back and reread situations they were in and read into them. It’s weird. It’s creepy. It draws on your emotions, and I love any book that will make me think about it long after I finished the last page.
What I didn’t like about this book was the lack of character development. I think I was nearly half way through before I could keep Alice and Poppy separate in my mind. I’m huge on good, strong characters, and they were a little fuzzy and gray for me. A student started this book before me, and she put it down, because she said there was too much description. I could see that… I stuck it out, and it got good, though! I hope Daniela picks it up again. Okay, and the bathroom scene… kind of freaky for me. Horror movie material. It got my heart racing.
Book 11 of 52