Best-Loved Doll Books

June 21, 2011 @ 2:36 pm | Filed under:

1. What else? Rebecca Caudill’s The Best-Loved Doll, of course! I adored this book as a child; I found the girl’s devotion to her scuffed-up, faded, frazzle-haired doll deeply touching and believable. Rose went through a long period of attachment to this book after I made her a (highly imperfect) cloth doll when she was seven or eight years old.

2. Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden. Has probably been read a cumulative total of thirty times by my three oldest daughters. Creating a house for two homesick Japanese dolls helps a girl get over her own homesickness. Lovely.

3. Among the Dolls by William Sleator. NOT a hit with everyone here: decidedly too creepy for some. But I remember the delicious chill up my spine when I (around age eleven) first encountered the sinister gleam in the eyes of that doll family out for revenge.

4. May I count a toy rabbit as a doll? Kate di Camillo’s melancholy The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which captivated us as we drove across Oklahoma and Missouri last summer, seems to me to deserve a place on this list.

5. Raggedy Ann Stories by Johnny Gruelle. As I mentioned the other day, I don’t find Mr. Gruelle’s writing very easy to read aloud; it feels stilted and arch. But as a child I loved the world he portrayed, both inside Marcella’s nursery and out of it.

6. Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field. An early Newbery Medal winner about a doll who packs a great deal of adventure into her “first hundred years.” I’d like to hear about her second century…

    Related Posts


41 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. jen ambrose says:

    Little Plum, also by Rumer Godden

  2. Melissa Wiley says:

    Ooh, a new one for me! Thanks! Suppose Rumer’s THE HOLLY AND THE IVY is a good doll book also, come to think of it.

    Anybody ever read MISS HICKORY by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey? I found a copy on our shelves but no one here seems to have read it. Charming illustrations by Ruth Gannett (of MY FATHER’S DRAGON).

  3. Terry Doherty says:

    Oh, The Wheat Doll is just a beautiful story! Have you seen it?

  4. monica says:

    im glad you mentioned holly and ivy. i cry when i read it, and my sons just look at me like im crazy. boys interact with stuffed animals as wrestling partners as much as companions.

  5. Kara Shallenberg says:

    I think I’ve read Miss Happiness and Miss Flower thirty times also 🙂 I LOVE that book!

  6. Jennifer says:

    I clicked over to list The Story of Holly and Ivy – but I see you already took care of that!

  7. Melissa Wiley says:

    Ooh, Terry, THE WHEAT DOLL! I do love that book. Am I recalling correctly that it was one of the fiction picture book nominees the year we served on that CYBILs committee together?

  8. Sara says:

    I had The Best Loved Doll and I love that book! I don’t know any of the others, though. 🙁

  9. Love2learn Mom says:

    Ah, I popped in from Google Reader just to mention “The Story of Holly and Ivy”. 🙂

  10. mamacrow says:

    love Rummer Godden – I worked (for a short time) in the library of the girls school to which she went!

    Do you know Five Dolls in a House, by Helen Clare? Soooo lovely – a girl who finds she goes small, and goes and visits her dolls in their dolls house – and the monkey who lives on the roof – and all the gentle and funny adventures that happen. Theres a sequal too.

    Oh, and The Mysterious Baba and her Magic Caravan by Ruth Ainsworth – about a family of dolls house dolls again, who hire a housekeeper who is more than she first seems…

    Oh and there was another about a group of dolls who all lived inthe same street, and would slip out from their prams int he garden etc and run off and have adventures together. Sadly, I no longer have it and can’t recall the title or author 🙁

  11. mamacrow says:

    AHA! Got it! It is, in fact, The Dolls from Doll Street by Elieen Mathias – good old Amazon!

  12. mamacrow says:

    oh god, sorry to spam your comments, just thought of another – Ragdoll named Galldora by Modwena Sedgwick – i had the audio cassette of it as kid, and just played it to pieces

  13. Jeanne says:

    What about the Dare Wright books? The Lonely Doll and Edith & Mr. Bear? I loved those books – but I suspect they were before *your* time.

  14. Mrs. H says:

    I remember a book I read and loved in elementary, but could never remember the title … a few years ago I tracked down the title – Through the Years with Henrietta by Irene Turnbow. But I have never been able to find a copy. Anyone else know it?

    Mrs H

  15. yvonne says:

    Did you read The Surprise Doll by Morrell Gipson? The illustrations are especially sweet. (Probably not fine literature, but I read it over and over again as a little girl.)

  16. MelanieB says:

    The Story of Holly and Ivy is Bella’s favorite. Also by Rumer Goddem is The Dolls House.

  17. Amy @ Hope Is the Word says:

    I have Kirby Larson’s new book The Friendship Doll waiting on me right now. And I read Miss Hickory to my girls when they were 5 and 3 1/2. Here’s my review–>

    Isn’t Edward Tulane (especially in audio!?!) the best? We loved Hitty, too!

  18. Mary Alice says:

    Oh, and the legend of the blue bonnet is a heart wrenching one, by Tomie dePaola

  19. Mary-Alice says:

    Have to also chime in with a vote for The Story of Holly and Ivy. A Christmas favorite — and we have a house full of boys!!!

  20. Mary Alice says:

    Oh, Jeanne, The Lonely Doll was one of my favorites, but my kids didn’t like it, I think that they were traumatized by the bad behavior and spanking.

  21. Jen L. says:

    You have to read Impunity Jane by Rumer Godden. love it.

  22. Mary-Alice says:

    Curiously, I didn’t post the Lonely Doll comment above. However, it happens I DID share it with my kids, who were politely weirded out by it. But I have fond memories from my own childhood.

  23. Melissa Wiley says:

    I have two Mary(-)Alices posting simultaneously? What are the odds! I know and love you both. 🙂

  24. jen ambrose says:

    A is for Annabelle. My sister had it, and I coveted it my entire childhood

  25. CLM says:

    Oh, Melissa, what about Floating Island by Anne Parrish (one of my mother’s favorites) and did no one mention Hitty, Her First Hundred Years? I also love A Candle in Her Room by Ruth Arthur (angry doll), Missing Melinda (doll with secret), Magic Elizabeth (magic doll) and The Christmas Dolls (orphan dolls). I am sure there are others I am forgetting.

    I am also fan of the Five Dolls in a House and Lonely Doll books mentioned above. Finally, I recently bought but have not yet read Finding Walter (lost doll).

  26. Shonda says:

    My girls love Big Susan about doll house people. I like the picture book The Tub People very much. 🙂 My son loved listening to the audio of The Doll People.

  27. CLM says:

    Sorry, Melissa, I went back to reread your list and realized you had included indeed included Hitty. In addition to enjoying her adventures, I liked the descriptions of her clothing.

  28. Jeanne says:

    Mary Alice, I know what you mean about The Lonely Doll “bad behavior and spankings.” I was sort of fascinated by it – a stranger-in-a-strange-land kind of thing. I remember asking my mom why I had never gotten a spanking, and to this day I love her carefully crafted but quick answer: “You’ve never needed one.”

  29. Alison says:

    Racketty-Packetty House by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Doll People and The Runaway Dolls by Ann Martin and Brian Selznick. For a creepy doll (more YA) – Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones.

  30. Nina says:

    I loved The Best-Loved Doll so much that I just didn’t return it to East School Elementary. I still have that copy on my bookshelf. 😉 Love Caudill’s Happy Little Family books although not about dolls.

    Also, wanted to add that the Cicely Tyson reading of the Raggedy Ann stories is worthwhile. I didn’t like reading it aloud but Cate really enjoyed the audio stories.

  31. Kelly says:

    For a historical “living books” doll book I highly recommend Patty Reed’s Doll-The Story of the Donner Party by Rachel K. Laurgaard. The story is told from the dolls perspective. Nice illustrations as well.

  32. Jen D-K says:

    Oh, so many good books here!! And you’re bringing back wonderful memories (ohmygosh, Patty Reed’s Doll! I read that a million years ago!) But I am SO PSYCHED to mention one that I don’t think has come up yet: “Merry, Rose, and Christmas Tree June” by Doris Orgel, illustrated by Edward Gorey. You are going to love it!!

  33. Melissa Wiley says:

    Nina, I am such a dunce!!! We have Happy Little Family but I have NEVER put it together that it’s by Rebecca-Caudill-author-of-The-Best-Loved-Doll! Because, you know, THE NAME ON THE COVER wasn’t enough of a clue.


    Thanks, all of you, for these great suggestions—I can’t wait to look them up. 🙂

  34. Melissa Wiley says:

    Scott came up with a clever addition to this list: The Indian in the Cupboard! But of course!

  35. MelanieB says:

    Oh how could I have forgotten our absolute favorite and best loved doll book, Dahlia by Barbara McClintock? Scrumptious, scrumptious, scrumptious. The art, the story, everything. Please tell me that you know this book because if you don’t you must go get it right away.

  36. Celeste says:

    Agree with Melanie on Dahlia–my 4yo daughter adores that book.

    And has anyone mentioned The Most Wonderful Doll in the World by Phyllis McGinley?

  37. Melissa Wiley says:

    I have not read Dahlia! Sounds like I’d better!

  38. MAM says:

    OK so the OTHER Mary-Alice (really??!!) also has to cast a vote for The Story of Holly and Ivy. I read that with my three BOYS every Christmas. 🙂

  39. Faith says:

    My 11 yo loves dolls and books, so this is a great list! We’ve read no. 4, 5, and 6. We’ve read The Dolls House by Godden but not Miss Happiness. I used to read The Story of Holly and Ivy every Christmas. I’ll have to do that again.

    Thanks for such a great post!

  40. Leslie says:

    Help! I’m trying to remember the name of a book about 2 dolls in either a store or workshop, wanting to be adopted. One may have been blonde and the other brunette but I’m hazy on the specifics. I read it when I was a kid in the early 90s. If you know please email me! I’m going nuts!