by Holly Black
Margaret K. McElderry Books
256 (page count quoted on publisher's arc)
Available May 7, 2013 (date from publisher's arc)
Creepy, spooky, and downright strange, Doll Bones will delight tween fans of ghost stories and things that go bump in the night. Author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series Jeff Kinney says, "Nobody does spooky like Holly Black. Doll Bones is a book that will make you sleep with the lights on" (quote from publisher's flyer included with the shipment of the arc).
Best friends Zach, Poppy and Alice have played their game with dolls for years. Zach plays with a pirate doll he calls William the Blade, captain of the ship Neptune's Pearl. Alice's G.I. Jane doll is Lady Jaye, a thief who sneaks passage on the Pearl and Poppy's dolls are evil mermaids intent on destroying the ship and its crew. There is one doll strictly off limits; the kids refer to her only as The Great Queen and she lives in the china cabinet inside Poppy's house. Poppy's mother says she is old and made of fine bone china and worth a fortune. The kids make up a story for her; she is The Great Queen who rules over all the kingdoms.
When Poppy begins having nightmares and is haunted by a blond girl dressed in a nightgown who wants Poppy to bury her, Poppy enlists her friends' help. The Great Queen is made not just of china but of bones! The child in the dream tells Poppy that the doll in the china cabinet is actually her.
The friends hatch a plan to ride the bus to Liverpool, Ohio, where the doll was manufactured. There, the vision told Poppy, bury her (the doll) in the cemetary under a willow tree.
The kids' adventure is like one of their play stories. There are leering, crazy strangers and villians, a few helpful fairy godmothers (a donut shop owner and a waitress), and a not-so-nice librarian.
One problem and it probably only bothers librarians: the librarian in the book is depicted as blinking "...owlishly behind her bright-green glasses" * and she comes off as gruff and not kid-friendly--not exactly the type of librarian depiction that this librarian/blogger likes to see in kid-lit. In fact, the librarian threatens to call the police and warns the kids that they better not have vandalized the place. The illustration of the librarian by Eliza Wheeler depicts a prim and very properly dressed middle aged woman. Again, not the face of librarians today. This is a librarian from yesteryear. C'mon, Holly Black, I know you've met librarians across the country, and you know librarians today are way cool.
Could Poppy be going crazy? Is she really dreaming about a ghost of a real girl who was murdered? Could the doll really be made of the girl's bones? Who was the little girl and who killed her? Could a doll be evil and haunting Poppy? When Zach has a creepy dream of his own, he becomes a believer. The kids decide to find the willow tree and solve the mystery.
Highly recommended for fans of ghost stories grade 5-up.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)
*Quoted material from the arc