Mystery Dolls from Planet Urd by Joan Lowery Nixon, 1981.
This is part of the Kleep: Space Detective series.
Kleep’s grandfather is an inventor, and she loves it when she’s included in the gatherings of other inventors that her grandfather hosts. They come from many different planets, and she loves to hear them talk about their work. However, there are some other inventors that Kleep doesn’t like at all. Slurc, who is from the planet Urd, takes no notice of Kleep until he overhears another inventor telling Kleep about something he has recently learned about that comes from the planet Earth.
Earth is unaware of other planets, like the planet Astarr, where Kleep lives, but people do visit Earth secretly to study the people and their habits. Kleep’s own parents mysteriously disappeared on a mission to Earth, and Kleep is determined to find them one day. Pili, an inventor from Ruel, knows that Kleep is interested in anything about Earth, so he gives her an Earth doll.
Children on Astarr do not play with dolls, so Kleep doesn’t really understand what purpose they serve, and it makes her nervous that it looks so much like either a small person or robot but is not alive and does not do anything. Then, Slurc, listening to their conversation, tells her that children on Urd play with dolls, but theirs are much better, and he promises to send her some that she can share with her friends. Although Kleep does not really like Slurc, she thanks him for the offer just to be polite.
Sure enough, the dolls from Urd soon arrive, but they make Kleep even more nervous than the doll from Earth. They seem a little too life-like, and one night, Kleep wakes up, certain that she heard them whispering to each other!
At first, her grandfather and her best friend, Till, think that she’s just imagining it because the dolls make her nervous. However, when she gives a couple of the dolls to Till, he experiences the same thing!
The dolls from Urd are not normal, and Kleep is sure that they are there for a sinister purpose. She and her friend must discover what it is and fast!
The setting and inventions on Kleep’s world are imaginative. I especially like the idea of the learning devices that can send knowledge directly into your mind (maybe a little creepy, but certainly a time-saver). The plot might seem a little far-fetched, but I liked it when I was a kid, and it’s still entertaining. It’s my favorite book in the series. I think of this book every time someone mentions Furbies or any similar sort of electronic toy that is supposed to speak to another. Furbies especially talk to each other, and they look like they’re from outer space. Who’s to say what sinister plots might be hatching in their furry little minds?