Plot: Madison Blackberry has a dollhouse with five marvelous dolls. Three of the dolls and the most beautiful creatures Madison has ever laid eyes on, the other two are the men, one is a soldier named Guy and the other is a bear named B. Friend. The three gorgeous creatures are Wildflower, Rockstar and Miss Selene with her delicately, wondrous wings. They all are dressed in the most glamorous dresses to be found and Madison is beyond jealous of them. One day she decides that she doesn’t want the dolls to be happy anymore and takes all of their beautiful dresses away, Guy goes off to war, and B. Friend is missing in action. The dolls become depressed and lose track of their daily lives, just sitting around doing nothing all day, but Madison Blackberry feels better knowing they are suffering, as she does.
Review: This book is laced with metaphors. For young readers it appears to be just another wonderful story of a dollhouse and its owner, but for the older readers they will be able to decipher the meaning behind Block’s heavy words. Madison, the dollhouse owner, is a sad child because her mother never pays her any attention and she feels abandoned. So, she decides to take her anger out on her toys, specifically her dollhouse. Why should they be happy and beautiful all the time, when she is not? Taking her frustration out on her playthings makes Madison feel better, but in the end she notices the destruction her actions have on the dolls and tries to make amends with them. This illustrations are exquisite pieces of art that could easily stand alone and add so much more to the story. A deeply haunting and emotion laced tale that is filled with imagination.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Reading Level/Interest Level: 5.9/3-6 graders
Similar Materials: I would say any other Francesca Lia Block book, Toys Go Out, by Emily Jenkins, Toy Story 1, 2, & 3
Reader’s Advisory: Francesca Lia Block writes with such deep meaning and you can see it in House of Dolls. This is a wonderful book, the meaning may be lost on younger readers, but the story is still imaginative and heartfelt. The magic that hides behind a child’s plaything is a truly beautiful thing. I recommend this book to tweens and older teens as well.