Author: Holly Black
Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler
Published May 7th, 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Goodreads Summary: 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…
My Review: Wow. I am very reluctant to read “scary” books because I too often find that they rely too much on the scary and not enough on the writing. However, with Doll Bones, Holly Black was able to write a well-written middle grade novel with a good plot arc and characterization mixed with a lot of creepy. Within her “scary” book, Holly Black is able to capture a very awkward time in one’s life– middle school! –in a very realistic way. Her characters are believable, completely filled with the internal debate of growing up or staying a child a bit longer. Then, on top of her great middle grade story, she has included a completely creepy aspect of the story that I even had to put down a couple of times because I knew I was reading some creepy stuff too close to bedtime.
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This one will be a phenomenal read aloud and will find a ton of readers when put into classroom libraries. I also know that some of my teacher friends are planning to use it in a book club setting as well.
Discussion Questions: Have you ever been in a situation like Zach where you feel like you are supposed to grow up, but you’d rather play like you used to?; Do you think Poppy was telling the truth the whole time?; What do you think happened to The Queen?
We Flagged: “It wasn’t like a regular dream,” Poppy said, her fingers smoothing back the Queen’s curls and her voice changing, going soft and chill as the night air. It reminded Zach of the way Poppy talked when she played villains or even the Queen herself. “It wasn’t like dreaming at all. She was sitting on the end of my bed. Her hair was blond, like the doll’s, but it was tangled and dirty. She was wearing a nightdress smeared with mud. She told me I had to bury her. She said she couldn’t rest until her bones were in her own grave, and if I didn’t help her, she would make me sorry.” (p. 62-63)
Read This If You Loved: Mary Downing Hahn books, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Guys Read: Thriller edited by Jon Scieszka
**Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy!**
3 thoughts on “Doll Bones by Holly Black”
I am facilitating a “Newbery” club at lunch & one of the students just shared about this book, Kellee, a 4th grader. She said she loved reading the mystery, & gave it a good review. I have it, & need to read it. It sounds creepy but good! Thanks!
It is a a bit creepy, but it is more than good–your 4th grader is correct, it is definitely a mock Newbery book 🙂