Four Dolls

FourDolls

Four Dolls by Rumer Godden, 1983.

This is a collection of four stories about different, special dolls.  Each of the stories is from the perspective of the dolls themselves, talking about their owners and their adventures.  A common thread through all four stories is the bond between the dolls and their owners and how they make a difference in each other’s lives.

Even though the collection of stories is from 1983, each of the individual stories in the book was written separately, in different years.  You can find each of these stories as their own individual books as well as part of other collections.  I give the original years of each story next to their titles.

The pictures in the book are wonderful, some of them in black and white and some in full color.

The book is currently available online through Internet Archive.

The four dolls and stories are:

Impunity Jane (1955)

FourDollsJane

The word “impunity” basically means freedom from harm, and it’s an apt nickname for the doll Jane.  She’s a very sturdy little doll, the kind that can stand up to the rough play of children and last for a long time.  From the time when she is first bought, she stays with her original owner’s family, passed down through the generations and enjoyed by various girls in the family.  However, they mostly keep her in the family doll house and play with her in different ways.  One girl likes to sew clothes for her and another, who wants to be a teacher, gives her lessons.

There is just one problem: Jane is frequently bored.  More than anything, she wants to be a pocket doll, carried around in her owner’s pocket, seeing the world and experiencing everything.  She doesn’t get much excitement in the doll house where the girls keep her, and her latest owner doesn’t seem interested in playing with her at all.  But, unexpectedly, a boy in the family comes to her rescue, the younger cousin of her current owner.  Although most boys aren’t interested in playing with dolls, Gideon likes to use Jane as his “model”, taking her outside, carrying her around in his pocket, and giving her rides in his toys, giving Jane the adventurous life she’s always dreamed of!

At first, Gideon borrows the doll without his cousin’s permission, and Jane dreads the day that he will give her back, even though she hates to see Gideon feel guilty.  Fortunately, when Gideon does take her back, it turns out that his older cousin is getting rid of a lot of her old toys because she’ll soon be heading off to boarding school. She tells Gideon that he can have anything he wants, so he keeps Jane, who continues being Gideon’s model and good luck charm.

The Fairy Doll (1956)

FourDollsFairy

Elizabeth is the youngest of her siblings and feels like she can’t do anything right.  She’s always making mistakes and can’t even ride a bicycle.  Everyone is used to telling her what to do, and she receives a lot of criticism from teachers and parents and teasing from other children, giving her poor self-confidence.  She is clumsy and break things, she forgets things, and she is frequently punished for every little thing she does.  The more they all scold her, the more mistakes she makes, and they can’t seem to figure out why. (It’s painfully obvious while reading it – her family makes her live in a constant state of nervousness, and she’s afraid of really trying many things because they keep telling her that she can’t do anything.  Her siblings seem more outright abusive rather than simply teasing, and her parents seem clueless, not punishing the older siblings for their terrible, bullying behavior.  I think that the family is meant to seem merely impatient with Elizabeth because they forgot how much younger she is than the other children and perhaps thoughtless to the effect that they’re having on her, but it seriously looks like they’re actually gaslighting the poor kid, purposely and systematically undermining her self-confidence for their own sick amusement, even the girl’s father.  Seriously, I hated all of them (except Elizabeth, whose only real problem is being a little kid) before I was very far into the story.)

However, the Fairy Doll that has been passed down in their family seems to have a kind of magic effect on Elizabeth.  No one knows quite where the doll came from because it’s been around for so long, although they use her as a Christmas decoration every year, at the top of the tree.  Only Elizabeth’s mother and great-grandmother seem concerned about Elizabeth at all, and it is at the great-grandmother’s insistence that Elizabeth be given the Fairy Doll to play with all year, after Elizabeth accidentally breaks a crystal bowl. (Which she only did because her bratty sister Josie shoved her from behind while she was holding it – Why did the parents never notice and properly punish the little brat Josie like they should?  They’re clueless and useless, and possibly gaslighting her.  It really looks like that.  The father even makes a big deal about what use it is to give Elizabeth Christmas presents like the other children when she doesn’t ride the bike he gave her.  What a weird, oddly vindictive father.)

The Fairy Doll seems to suggest things to Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth doesn’t quite know how to do something, the Fairy Doll gives her hints.  When Elizabeth is in danger of forgetting something, the Fairy Doll reminds her.  (In other words, the Fairy Doll does what a family is supposed to do and what her family could do if they were so busy bullying her – she offers Elizabeth help, support, and guidance.  Elizabeth is only seven years old at the oldest in the story, and Elizabeth’s family is too busy yelling at her for doing little things wrong or not knowing things to properly teach her anything.  They say that they tried to teach her to ride a bike, but I wonder how much “teaching” actually happened and how much it was really just yelling.  I think they also get kind of a kick out of seeing Elizabeth look bad because they think it makes themselves look better.  The father seriously disturbed me.  What kind of father is that hateful just because a very young child has some trouble riding a bike?  He makes it clear that he does not care about Elizabeth’s feelings at all.  She has to buy affection by . . . learning to ride a bike?  Because only bike riders are truly worthy of love?  Elizabeth’s family is really useless and weirdly vindictive.  I still hate them.  They are that horrible, just hearing about them.)  Little by little, Elizabeth’s small successes add up, and Elizabeth slowly crawls out of her shell, becoming more confident while her nasty, bratty, horrible siblings (yeah, I’m still angry, and I wonder if the father’s favorite little darling is the little psycho Josie) marvel at how she changes.

Little by little, Elizabeth comes to realize that she can do more than she thinks she can.

The Story of Holly and Ivy (1959)

FourDollsHollyIvy

Holly the doll doesn’t like being in the toy shop.  Abracadabra the owl frightens her, and she wishes that someone would buy her and give her to some girl as a Christmas present.

Meanwhile, Ivy is a troubled orphan who dreams of a new home with a grandmother who could take care of her.  When other children from the orphanage are taken to spend Christmas with families and Ivy is left behind, she tries to take matters into her own hands and find a family for herself.  Is there someone who could make wishes come true for both Holly and Ivy?

I worried about Ivy during this story, even though I knew that she and Holly would eventually end up together and okay.  She is lucky that she didn’t freeze to death.  Abracadabra the owl is also kind of a disturbing character, but they also get rid of him by the end of the story.  Apparently, the assistant in the toy stop doesn’t like him, either.

Candy Floss (1960)

FourDollsCandyFloss

Candy Floss the doll belongs to Jack, who runs a carnival game, a “cocoanut shy,” where people try to throw balls at coconuts to knock them down and win a prize.  She enjoys living with Jack and his dog.  Jack has a special music box with a little horse on top, and Candy Floss sits on the horse while the music box plays and Jack’s dog begs nearby.  In this way, Candy Floss and the dog earn a little extra money.  When Jack is done working, he takes his dog, Cocoa, and Candy Floss the doll with him to see the rest of the carnival, and both of them enjoy it.

One day, a spoiled girl named Clementina attends their carnival.  Although Clementina is from a wealthy family, and her parents give her all sorts of things, she finds that she is frequently bored and unhappy.  When Clementina sees Candy Floss, she wants her, too, and is angry when Jack says that she can’t have her.  It’s the first time in her life that anyone has said “no” to Clementina about anything.  Clementina steals Candy Floss just to prove the point that when she wants something, she gets it.

However, Candy Floss wants to return to Jack.  She refuses to accept Clementina as her new “owner,” resists Clementina’s efforts to play with her (much to Clementina’s surprise), and finds a way to teach Clementina a lesson about greed.

In the end, Clementina not only returns Candy Floss but helps Jack to run his carnival game for awhile.  Part of Clementina’s unhappiness is caused by the fact that, even though she has many toys to play with, she doesn’t have much to do that is really meaningful to her.  She is surprised when she discovers how good it can feel to really earn something, like the coins that Jack gives her for helping him.

One of the cute things about this story is that it includes the music and words for the tune in the music box.

The book, which contains all four of these stories, is currently available online through Internet Archive.

Katy Comes Next

KatyComesNext

Katy Comes Next by Laura Bannon, 1959.

Ruth is little girl whose parents own a doll hospital. She has always been proud and fascinated by how her parents can make old or damaged dolls beautiful again.

KatyComesNextDollShop

However, Ruth’s own beloved doll, Katy, is in need of repair herself. As her parents rush around repairing dolls for their customers, they keep assuring her that Katy’s turn will come next.

KatyComesNextRuthsFather

After being put off repeatedly, Ruth starts to think that poor Katy will never get the attention that she needs.

KatyComesNextRuthMending

When Ruth’s parents realize how discouraged she is, they decide to take a day off for Katy to come first.

KatyComesNextFatherPaintSpray

This was one of absolute favorites when I was little!  The pictures alternate between black and white and color and show the process that Ruth’s parents go through to repair Katy, repaint her features, and give her new hair and eyes.

KatyComesNextClothesTrunk

Ruth also gets to pick out an entirely new wardrobe for Katy. I was always fascinated with the description of how Ruth’s parents fixed the doll, and I enjoyed imagining the doll clothes that I would have selected from the ones they showed in the pictures.  Making the choices is half the fun!

KatyComesNextDresses

KatyComesNextPajamas

When Katy is finally finished, she looks beautiful, and Ruth is happy!  This is one of the many out of print children’s books that I wish would come back into print!

KatyComesNextPartyDress

Huggins and Kisses

HugginsKisses

Huggins and Kisses by Susan Creighton, illustrated by Ron C Lipking, 1985.

Mary has been wanting a dog for some time. She admires her neighbor’s dog, Sugar, who is so well behaved.

When her parents finally give her the puppy she’s been wanting, Mary is thrilled, and names the puppy Kisses. However, taking care of a dog and training it turns out to be a lot more work than Mary expected! Kisses doesn’t know how to walk on a leash, and he sometimes chews things he shouldn’t.

One day, Mary gets angry with Kisses for ripping the arm off of her favorite doll and yells at him. While Kisses is hiding under Mary’s bed, and Mary is crying, one of the Hugga Bunch, Huggins, appears to comfort them. Mary is surprised to see Huggins, and she explains to Mary that she is from Huggaland, which can be reached through her bedroom mirror. She invites Mary to see it for herself, and Kisses follows them.

HugginsKissesDoll

In Huggaland, Huggins repairs Mary’s doll, which makes her feel better. Then Kisses knocks over the birdbath at Huggins’s house, and Mary gets angry again. Huggins points out to Mary that Kisses hasn’t actually broken anything and that he was probably looking for water because he was thirsty. Huggins gives Kisses more water and a hug.

Mary asks Huggins how she can hug Kisses when he’s been bad, and Huggins explains the importance of gentle discipline. Dogs may be naughty sometimes, but what they really need is love and training. Mary just hasn’t been patient with Kisses and given him the time he needs to learn how to behave.

Mary remembers how much that she really loves Kisses and resolves to give him the time and attention he needs to learn to be a good dog.

It’s a cute picture book, and a nice story about learning to care for pets, giving them the training they need and the time to learn.

A Hugga Bunch Hello

HuggaBunchHello

A Hugga Bunch Hello by Phyllis Fair Cowell, illustrated by Ron C Lipking, 1985.

Bridget likes having her grandmother living with her and the rest of her family. Her grandmother always has time for her and is willing to give her a hug. Her parents are often too busy, her brother thinks hugs are just for girls, and her Aunt Ruth is too fussy.

Then, Aunt Ruth tries to persuade everyone that Bridget’s grandmother should go live in a nursing home. Bridget doesn’t want her grandmother to leave, but she doesn’t know what to do about it.

While she worries, a strange little person steps out of her bedroom mirror. This little person is Huggins, one of the Hugga Bunch. She says that she knows about Bridget’s problem and thinks that she can help. She invites Bridget to come with her to Huggaland.

HuggaBunchHelloMirror

In Huggaland, the Hugga Bunch take Bridget to see the Book Worm, who may have the solution that Bridget seeks. Both the Hugga Bunch and the Book Worm say that aging can be slowed by affection and “the knowledge that they are needed,” but Bridget thinks that the only solution is to find a way to actually make her grandmother young again.

The Book Worm says that if that’s what Bridget wants, then her grandmother must eat fruit from the Youngberry Tree. Unfortunately, the tree is in the territory of the Mad Queen of Quartz. Although the Hugga Bunch are afraid of her, Bridget is willing to face her for her grandmother’s sake.

Getting there involves going through a few obstacles, including walking sideways on a sideways sidewalk and facing a frightening beast who turns out to be a baby elephant who was under a spell. When they reach the tree, the mad queen takes them prisoner and turns Bridget into a statue. Fortunately, the others manage to break free and save her.

HuggaBunchHelloTree

Bridget is happy at being able to bring the Youngberries to her grandmother, but as she passes through the mirror into her room, she accidentally drops them, and they disappear.

Not knowing what else to do, Bridget runs to give her grandmother a hug before she leaves, encouraging her brother to do the same. Bridget’s father wasn’t happy about her grandmother leaving, either, and seeing how much the children will miss her, he declares that she should stay.

This book was made into a made-for-tv movie.  It is currently available on YouTube.  It follows the plot of the book pretty closely.

Mystery of the Silent Friends

SilentFriendsMystery of the Silent Friends by Robin Gottlieb, 1964.

Nina Martin loves her father’s antique store. Although selling antiques is how her family makes their living, there are some that Nina finds it difficult to let go of when someone wants to buy them. Nina especially doesn’t want her father to sell the two automatons that she calls Henri and Henriette. The automatons are beautiful mechanical dolls that each do something special. Nina calls the boy doll “Henri” because he writes the name “Henri Bourdon” on a piece of paper. (Her father points out that it might be the name of the maker, not the doll itself.) The girl doll, Henriette, is a little more complicated and draws a series of different pictures. Most of the pictures seem to be of a little Swiss village, although one of them is oddly of a monkey that looks like the “speak no evil” monkey in the saying “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”

SilentFriendsAutomatonsFor a time, it seems like there’s no risk of the automatons being sold because no one seems particularly interested in buying them. Then, suddenly, two different men come to the shop and ask to buy the dolls. Weirdly, each of them tells the same story to Nina’s father: that their name is George Ballantine the Third, that their family once owned the automatons, that the dolls are actually part of a set of three, that they own the third doll (a girl doll that plays the spinet), and that they want to purchase the other two in order to reunite the set. Nina’s father is bewildered by these two men with identical stories and identical names and refuses to sell the automatons because of his daughter’s attachment to them and because he doesn’t know which of the two men to believe and doesn’t trust either of them.

Nina comes to think of the two men as “Red Ballantine” and “Brown Ballantine” because of their different hair colors. Brown Ballantine seems to be the more credible of the two. He invites Mr. Martin and Nina to his home in order to show them the third automaton and, hopefully, persuade Mr. Martin to sell him the other two. They visit Brown Ballantine’s apartment in an old brownstone, and he shows them the beautiful, spinet-playing doll as well as the rest of his collection of mechanical toys. However, Mr. Martin still refuses to make the sale.

SilentFriendsMechanicalToys

Nina tells her friend, Muffin, about the two mysterious Ballantines. The two girls are curious about which of the men is the genuine George Ballantine the Third and decide to investigate. When “Red Ballantine” comes to the shop again, trying to persuade Mr. Martin to sell the automatons, the girls ask if he would consider showing them the automaton he owns as a test. At first, the red-haired man is hesitant, but then he agrees that they can come and see his doll. Mr. Martin is embarrassed at the girls’ forwardness in asking, but he admits that he is also curious about the two Ballantines.

SilentFriendsSpyingAt first, they all expect that Red Ballantine won’t be able to show them the third doll and will give up trying to buy the other two, but to their astonishment, he takes them to the same apartment where Brown Ballantine said that he lived and shows them the exact same doll they saw before. Instead of clearing things up, the identities of the two men seem to get all the more confusing. However, Muffin notices something strange about the tune that the doll plays on the spinet that gives them a clue as to why the three dolls are so important.  Later, someone breaks into the antique store and uncovers a hidden secret about Henri as well.

Together, the three automatons are hiding a secret, and only by considering the message that each of them offers can the girls discover what it is.

Although I was pretty sure which of the two Ballantines was the genuine one, I was never completely sure until almost the end.  In a way, I was a little disappointed by the dolls’ final secret because I though it was something that was especially old, from when the dolls were first created, but the secret messages were actually a more recent addition to the dolls’ repertoire by an eccentric man with a treasure to hide and a taste for practical jokes and riddles.  Muffin is a habitual practical joker, and that partly figures into the solution of the mystery.

I thought it was kind of interesting, too, that Mr. Martin has the habit of walking around with a cigarette in his mouth that he never lights, like Inspector Kramer in the Nero Wolfe mysteries.

The book is currently available online through Internet Archive.

The Surprise Doll

SurpriseDoll

The Surprise Doll by Morrell Gipson, 1949.

Mary is a little girl who lives by the sea. Her father is the captain of a ship, and he travels to different countries all over the world. Sometimes, he brings presents for Mary from his voyages. So far, he has brought six dolls for her:

SurpriseDollTeresaSusan – from England, with rosy cheeks

Sonya – from Russia, with a cute turn-up nose

Teresa – from Italy, with brown eyes

Lang Po – from China, with raised eyebrows

Katrinka – from Holland, with blonde hair

Marie – from France, with a smile that brightens her whole face

Mary loves her dolls, but she realizes that if she had a seventh doll, she would have a doll for each day of the week. She asks her father if he will bring her another, but he says that she already has enough dolls.

When her father refuses her request, Mary pays a visit to the local dollmaker. She takes along her six dolls and explains to the dollmaker why she wants one more. After studying Mary and her dolls, the dollmaker agrees to make one for her as long as she’s willing to leave her other dolls with him for a week. At the end of the week, Mary returns to collect her new doll and receives a surprise!

SurpriseDollDollmaker

The “surprise” isn’t much of a surprise to the readers because the “surprise doll” is shown on the cover of the book, but it’s a cute story about how people around the world have many things in common. What the dollmaker notices about Mary and her dolls is that Mary shares certain qualities with each doll, the ones listed in the dolls’ descriptions above. So, he makes a doll for Mary that looks just like her by using her other dolls and their shared features as models. Her new doll, Mary Jane, is an American doll, but she has features in common with Mary’s other dolls from around the world, just like children in America can share qualities with children in other places. It’s a soft message about diversity and finding common ground.

SurpriseDollSeventhDoll

The Dollhouse Murders

dollhousemurdersThe Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright, 1983.

Amy is upset because she constantly has to look after her sister Louann, who has developmental problems. Louann is only a year younger than Amy, but her condition makes her think and act like a small child all the time. Amy loves Louann, but having her around all the time makes it difficult for her do things on her own and to make friends.  It’s frustrating because the girls’ mother doesn’t seem to understand the pressure Amy feels.

One day, she has an argument with her mother about it and runs away to her aunt’s house. Aunt Clare normally lives in Chicago, but she has returned to her home town to sort out the things in her grandparents’ old house. Sympathizing with Amy, Aunt Clare offers Amy the chance to stay with her for a couple of weeks, without Louann.

Aunt Clare and her brother, Amy’s father, used to live with their grandparents when they were young, and Aunt Clare says that she has unhappy memories of that time.  While helping her aunt go through some of the old things in the house, Amy discovers that there is a dollhouse in the attic made to look exactly like the grandparents’ house and dolls which look like the grandparents, Clare, and her brother. Amy thinks the dollhouse is wonderful, but Aunt Clare seems to find it disturbing.

When Aunt Clare refuses to talk about her deceased grandparents, Amy looks at some old newspapers at the library to learn more about them. To her shock, she learns that they were murdered in the house and that the killer was never found. Soon, strange things begin happening with the dollhouse. The dolls move around on their own, and mysterious lights and crying noises can be heard. The dolls seem to be acting out the events of the night of the murder. After all this time, the dolls seem to be trying to tell them something, if they have the courage to listen.

Aside from revealing the murderer’s true identity, the dolls settle other troubling matters in Amy’s family.  For years, Aunt Clare has blamed herself for the way she behaved around the time her grandparents were killed.  She was afraid that something she did might have even led to their deaths.  But, none of it was really her fault, and her grandparents want her to know that she needn’t blame herself anymore.  When Aunt Clare realizes the truth, she feels like a great weight has been lifted from her.  She begins coming to terms with her past and appears to be headed for a better future.  Amy also comes to terms with her sister’s condition and values her even more highly when Louann’s lack of fear of the dollhouse gives Amy the courage to see the dolls’ final message.  Amy’s family also makes changes to help Louann become a little more independent and to allow Amy a little more independence of her own.

The book is currently available online through Internet Archive (multiple copies).

Mystery Dolls From Planet Urd

KleepDollsUrdMystery 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.

KleepDollsUrdPic1Sure 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?

 

Abigail

abigailAbigail by Portia Howe Sperry and Lois Donaldson, 1938.

Susan is a little girl living on a farm in Kentucky during the 1800s.  Her family has recently decided to move to Indiana, which is the new frontier of the United States.  Her uncle and his family are already living there, and he has persuaded Susan’s parents of the opportunities that await them.

As the family packs up to leave, Susan’s grandmother gives her a special present that she and Susan’s aunt made for her: a new doll.  Unlike Susan’s old wooden doll, this doll is a soft rag doll that she can sleep with.  They made the doll to look like Susan herself, but Susan names the doll Abigail after her grandmother.

Abigail accompanies Susan on her adventure as the family heads west to Indiana in their covered wagon.  Susan is sad and a little afraid at first, but when she thinks of what Abigail would say to her about her need to be brave and to explain to her all the strange things they will encounter on the journey, Susan regains her courage.

The family does have adventures on their two-week trek to Indiana.  They have to cross rivers, face down a bear, and worry about whether they will encounter unfriendly Indians (Native Americans).  Even after they arrive in Indiana, joining their other relatives, they will still have to get used to life in a new place.

Throughout the book, there are little side-stories, poems, and hymns that the family sings and tells each other.  Through it all, Abigail is Susan’s constant companion, helping her to feel at home in her new home.

The Night Crossing

NightCrossingThe Night Crossing by Karen Ackerman, 1994.

It’s 1938 in Austria, and Clara’s parents have decided that their family needs to leave before things get worse.  Already, Jewish families like theirs are being rounded up by the Nazis, and Clara and her sister Marta were chased through the streets by other children, shouting insults.

Their family has been through things like this before.  Clara’s grandmother tells her about when she had to flee Russia as a little girl to escape the pogroms.  She brought her dolls Gittel and Lotte with her as her family hiked through the Carpathian Mountains.  Now, Clara will carry them with her as their family leaves Austria for Switzerland.

It’s a hard journey with lots of walking and little food.  The family can carry very little with them, and some of what they have they are forced to trade for food, a place to rest, and for not being turned over to the Nazis.  Finally, at the border crossing, Clara’s parents are afraid that they will have to get rid of the candlesticks that have been in their family for generations because they might be discovered by the border guards.  Then, Clara comes up with a plan to hide them in her dolls.  Will it work?

NightCrossingPicThis is a pretty short chapter book.  Although the subject matter is serious, and parts might be frightening to young children (the part where Clara and Marta are chased and perhaps some of the parts where the family is hiding), there are only vague references to more dark subjects like concentration camps (people who already know what they are and what happened there would understand, but children who haven’t heard about them wouldn’t get the full picture from the brief mentions).  The book would be a good, short introduction to the topic of the Holocaust by putting it in terms of the way it changed the lives of ordinary people who had to flee from it.  Actually, it wouldn’t be a bad way to start a discussion of the Syrian refugees in Europe by putting it into the context of ordinary people fleeing the violence of war.

This book is currently available online through Internet Archive.