Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dolls Unite Against Rogue Toy in Fun Toy Storyish Romp

(Image from Indiebound)

Long before Toy Story came along to confirm it, most kids suspected the truth: toys are alive. Sure, they put on a good act while children are in the room, but the moment their owners vacate the premises, all the Barbies, action figures, stuffed animals and green Army men wake up. They play, they fight, they flirt, they watch out for enemies (namely humans and pets), they live out their own lives. Obviously, they freeze the moment they hear danger approaching - after all, their secret must be kept at all costs. One wrong move could equal exposure, which would spell disaster for every plaything in the world. So, what happens when a rogue toy comes on the scene? Well, as Woody can tell you, it ain't always pretty.

At the Palmer house on 26 Wetherby Lane, Annabelle Doll and Tiffany Funcraft live a pretty uneventful life. Oh, they sometimes get tossed around by the girls who live there and they have to watch out for the family dog - all in all, though, it's a peaceful existence. Not that they mind an occasional adventure, of course. Still, when the girls hide themselves in Kate Palmer's backpack, they get a little more adventure than they bargained for. Navigating elementary school proves challenging, but nothing can prepare them for the kind of problems they face when they land in the wrong home. A controlling princess doll wants them off her turf, even if it means war. Her carelessness could mean the end of Annabelle, Tiffany and all of Dollkind. Do two timid dolls stand a chance against a menace like Mean Mimi? Or will they end up frozen permanently, trapped in Doll State forever?

The Meanest Doll in the World is the second entry in a fun Toy Story-ish series written by Ann M. Martin (of The Babysitter's Club fame) and Laura Godwin and illustrated by Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret). Although I read it at the request of my kids, I enjoyed this lighthearted romp as much as they did. At its heart, the story is about facing your fears, believing in yourself, and working together to solve problems. The lessons are hidden in an exciting, adventure-filled story which will capture their imaginations as well as their attention. Even my 12-year-old son couldn't wait to find out what happened next (although he wouldn't admit it in a million years). While it's not the most original story in the world, The Meanest Doll in the World is one of those tales that holds a timeless kind of appeal. It's a clean, enjoyable read that might even inspire kids to take better care of their toys - what more could a mom ask for?

(Readalikes: Reminded me of the Toy Story movies; The Doll People and The Runaway Dolls by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin are sure to be similar)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: G

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of The Meanest Doll in the World from the generous folks at Disney/Hyperion. Thank you!

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