Book Review: The Paper Dolls

We were recently sent the new picture book from Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson The Paper Dolls

In this delightful story, a string of paper dolls go on a fantastical adventure through the house and out into the garden.  On their travels they come across a toy dinosaur, whose clutcches they narrowly escape, a terrifying striped tiger slipper, and the snapping jaws of the oven-glove crocodile.  But they also find time to catch a red bus and lie on the roof to gaze at the stars.  However, a very real pair of scissors soon threatens...

Reminiscent of The Gingerbread Man, with its escapes and derring do and a repeated rhyme, The Paper Dolls is the first collaboration between Julia Donaldson, writer of some of the best-loved children's picture books, and Rebecca Cobb, a rising star in children's illustration.  It is a beautiful and moving story, told in Donaldson's unrivalled meter.  Cobb's illustrations have a timeless quality and together they have produced a modern classic.

Fans of Donaldson's vast body of work will find more in common here with the poignancy of The Snail and the Whale than the mischievous fun of The Gruffalo or the jollity of What The Ladybird HeardThe Paper Dolls is a subtle exploration of loss and will provide a gentle stimulus for discussing this issue with young children, although the over-arching message is one of hope and comfort.

I have read this book several times now with Lara, she thinks it great fun and joins in with the dolls' escape rhyme, but at the moment she is a little too young for the main message of the book.  Although I must admit it reduced me to tears the first time I read it, with its theme of memory and loss of the children we once were.  We have also since constructed our own first set of paper dolls!

The Paper Dolls is a beautiful book, in illustration, words and message, highly recommended.

Julia Donaldson is the current Children's Laureate and a hugely talented , prize-winning author.  As well as creating some of the world's best-loved picture book characters, Julia also writes noveels, plays and songs.  She is a huge advocate of performance as an aide to developing literacy and as such has created a new website: which provides resources to support the adaptation of picture books for performance by children.

Rebecca Cobb is a young illustrator of exceptional talent.  Since graduating from Falmouth College of Arts, Rebecca has collaborated with Orange Prize-winner Helen Dunmore on two picture storybooks and has created two solo picture books for Macmillan: the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal-nominated Missing Mummy and the delicious Lunchtime.  Rebecca is the official illustrator for Children's Book Week 2012.

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