Friday, May 24, 2013

Me on Doll Bones

Title: Doll Bones
Author: Holly Black
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster imprint)

Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing. And stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll, who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity.

Doll Bones is a curious, haunting, and moving look at growing up, an inventive and complicated story of a boy at a crossroads with the desire to keep having fun with his friends and the pressure put on him by his father to act his age. This book looks at those tough decisions we faced as children when we were told by adults to stop playing childish games, and whether or not you can grow up and keep having fun with your friends at the same time.

Zach is pushed into a difficult situation, both by his father and by his own feelings of shame. Playing with Poppy and Alice, creating new worlds filled with adventure and intrigue and pirates, those are the best moments of his life. But playing with dolls and action figures is for little kids, in the mind of his father, and it's time Zach grows up and focuses on what twelve-year-old boys should focus on: homework and sports. The dynamic between Zach, Alice, and Poppy was very interesting, they all had their roles to play, their times to speak up. Their dangerous risks to take.

Growing up, moving on. It's not something any kid looks forward to when they realize it's on the horizon. When it comes to playing with toys, dolls, and action figures, how old is too old? Must we follow the recommended age printed on the side of the box? When are you supposed to grow up and leave fun behind?

A big part of this book is imagination, how children can create anything out of nothing, how boundaries don't exist and everything is possible. How the word "no" doesn't have a place of its own anymore. The imagination of a child is a wondrous thing, filled with possibility.

This book highlights so many important and unique things about being a kid that adults either forget or take for granted. When you're a kid, anything is possible. You can do anything, be anyone. You can go anywhere you want while never leaving the side of the road. It's moments like those that should be remembered and encouraged, and books like this that remind us that, as kids, the entire world was our playground.

(I acquired an advance copy of this title at ALA Midwinter.)


  1. I really loved this book and I think it's one of the best MG novels I've read. I loved how it dealth with the themes of growing up/moving on. This is a fantastic review and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Holly Black is amazing, no matter what she choose to write about.
    Loved the review!! :)