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A 2014 Newbery Honor Book
"Nobody does spooky like Holly Black. Doll Bones is a book that will make you sleep with the lights on."
"Tightly focused, realistic tale—bladed with a hint of fairy-tale darkness.... Stories about the importance of stories...don’t come much more forthright and affecting than this one."
"Every encounter redraws the blurry lines between childishness and maturity, truth and lies, secrecy and honesty, magic and madness. Spooky, melancholy, elegiac and ultimately hopeful; a small gem."
*"A darn good adventure."
"It's as psychologically haunting as the ghost girl's physical haunting....Black begins with an ordinary experience of childhood and gives it a wicked twist to reveal the truth at the center of the impulse for storytelling."
"For the 10-12 year-old reader...Doll Bones may be perfect....It’s a deep, strange and compelling book, at times lovely, at times heartbreaking and deliciously.”
"[An] eerie, tender novel".
Posted May 31, 2013
Doll Bones is a new Middle Grade title from the talented Holly Black. It is, thus far, my favorite MG read of the year. It is a genre busting title that covers horror, suspense, mystery, and the supernatural. Or it could be a plain old contemporary realistic novel. It is all in how you look it at.
Doll Bones follows three twelve year olds who have been friends for years.
Zach: He is a talented basketball player and has recently attracted the interest of the cool kids and girls in his middle school. He doesn't want anyone to discover he still plays with action figures with his two friends who are girls, but he also loves it and doesn't want to give it up.
Alice: She is a drama girl who loves theater and acting and uses it to escape from her domineering grandmother, who is her guardian. She uses the game with her friends for the same thing and has created ever more dangerous and reckless characters who take the risks she is afraid to take herself.
Poppy: She is the youngest of a group of delinquent siblings. Her house is always a mess and her parents have quit trying to maintain order. It is her house the other two come to for their game, and it is Polly who is the diabolical thinker who comes up with all of the games danger and adventure. It is why she often plays the part of villain.
The game is complex. These kids created an epic imaginary world culled from tales and myths they read. Into it they placed characters who have real lives and histories. Over this world rules the Queen in her glass tower, an antique china doll belonging to Poppy's mom and locked in a cabinet to keeep her safe. They are invested in their game and everything it entails. Until one day Zach tells the girls he doesn't want to play anymore. Then one night the girls show up and tell him a horrifying story. Poppy released the Queen from the tower hoping she could convince Zach to keep playing. Now she is having dreams about a girl who was murdered. A girl whose bones were ground up and made into a china doll. She is demanding a proper burial in the cemetery in her home town. And she wants Poppy, Zach, and Alice to take her there.
All three characters are vivid, layered, and interesting. The story is told in third person from Zach's perspective so it is his thoughts and struggles the reader is most connected to. However, the girls' struggles are also depicted through Zach's interactions with and musings on them, even if he doesn't understand all of what he is seeing. The struggle here between childhood and emerging adolescence is rendered so well. It is happening gradually, yet faster than any of them would like, particularly Poppy who feels like she is being left behind by the other two. There is the struggle to hold on to the things that are most familiar as everything seems to be changing too fast. Yet there is an excitement and anticipation about the changes as well, at least in Zach and Alice. This is a story any middle school kid will find themselves in, they all have this same struggle.
Then there is the creepy horror part of the story. And creepy it is. Is Poppy messing with the other two? Spinning a yard to keep them playing the game, keep them attached to her? Or is the Queen really the ghost of murdered girl named Eleanor who is forcing the three to do her bidding by scaring the pants off of them? Black laid out her plot perfectly, setting down each event to keep the reader wondering, asking. Everything that happens to the kids can be
11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 16, 2013
You may never look at a doll in the same way again. Zach, Poppy, and Alice are normal middle-schoolers who always get together to play their own special game, in which they use action figures to concoct creative fantasies involving pirates, sea monsters, and other make-believe characters. However, when Zach’s newly-returned father does something unexpected, it seems that the game may be over forever. That is, until a strange doll—dubbed the Queen—begins haunting Poppy and leads them on a quest to put a young girl’s spirit to rest. Their adventure takes them to East Liverpool, Ohio, and along the way they encounter various obstacles that threaten their success and even their friendship. In the end, however, they learn that some things are worth fighting for and that despite inevitable changes some things, such as camaraderie, can prevail.
Holly Black’s “Doll Bones” is a children’s horror novel that explores one of the most common playthings of childhood in a new and disconcerting light. This book is intended for an older adolescent audience, as younger children may struggle with the overall mature vocabulary that Black employs, such as “portmanteau,” “acrid,” and “insomniac,” to name a few. It includes a modified version of the story behind East Liverpool’s Lotus Pottery and provides some historical background information on pottery making. Although it is classified in the horror genre and has a few creepy moments, the story itself is not very frightening and is suitable for older children, who will be able to relate to the characters and their common pre-teen problems, including parents, makeup, friendship, and even dating. “Doll Bones” is a highly imaginative story that delves into the realm of make-believe and emerges with a strong message of friendship and perseverance, making this an interesting and encouraging read.
6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 31, 2014
I listened to this book and loved it very much. I highly recommend this book for anyone, any age. Highly entertaining.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 23, 2013
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Posted June 19, 2013
Posted February 25, 2014
Zach, Alice, and Poppy have been friends forever and have played with their dolls/action figures with in depth plots. But Zach is turning 12 and his step father thinks he is too old to play with dolls. So, he decides to throw all of them away. Upset and ashamed, Zach stops playing with Alice and Poppy but doesn’t tell them why.
Alice and Poppy are confused. Part of it is because Alice is old enough to start having a crush on Zach. Poppy feels left behind and talks both Zach and Alice into solving the Queen’s mystery. The Queen is an antique doll that has been in Poppy’s mother’s case forever. But Poppy says the doll is haunted by a little girl whose bones were used to make the porcelain. Zach, Alice, and Poppy set out for one last adventure to solve the mystery of the Queen.
All of the kids are on the verge of adolescence and are trying to come to terms with this. Poppy is the most crushed since she is the youngest and feels everyone is leaving her. Zach is torn between being the adult his step father wants him to be and staying with his childhood friends. Alice lives with her grandmother and is having a hard time with trying to grow up and follow all of the strict rules. Of course the doll is sinister and although it seems like it really wants help it also seems like it is quite happy being evil.
This story is meant for midgrade kids but I think anyone would like it. There is a creepy factor without being too scary. I listened to an audio book of this story and a love the narrator. He really drew me into the story.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 19, 2014
This books was really fantastical with so many twists and turns you could get lost. It had a great plot and relatible characters. I expecially like how she left it open to write another book ( which I really hope she does :D). It was enjoyable to read. My only dislike was that it was so short. I read it in one day, and one hundred forty pages later there was nothing left to read.
Great book and would recommend it to any fiction lovers %100
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 13, 2014
Posted August 27, 2013
Posted June 26, 2013
Im nine and am a very fluent reader. Should i be reading this. I have very wide vocabulary and have synonyms for a pluthura of words. So if you have a answer for me in your heading type in "lovely pandas". Thank you.
P.S. im rating it this way beacause i have not read this book
1 out of 17 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 4, 2014
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Posted May 22, 2014
See full review at The Indigo Quill . blogspot . com
How deliciously creepy is the cover of this book?? Oh my goodness, I kept passing it at the book store and finally decided to buy it! It also helped that it had a "Newbery Honor" sticker on the front, too. And the part where it says "New York Times best-selling author and co-creator of The Spiderwick Chronicles."Basically, the entire cover worked in Holly Black's favor. Well played, Miss Black, and kudos to your talented illustrator, Eliza Wheeler.
Doll Bones is an adorably sinister book with just the perfect mixture of creepy and innocence to keep a reader hanging on for the ride. It isn't necessarily a children's horror book, but more so a story of friends who are making the transition from adolescence to young adulthood.
I don't want to give the wrong idea by saying "horror" because this book isn't scary, but rather creepy [at times]. I was actually hoping for a little more creepiness, but for the young mind who likes mystery and perhaps has a weak tolerance for things that may give them nightmares, this is a good selection. The doll in this book is sinister and ghostly, but the "scary" factor is fairly minimal. Just don't let your kid read it in the dark.
The main character, Zach, was more developed than the two girls as the book is written from his point of view. And although people said it was difficult to tell Poppy and Alice apart, I digress. Poppy was more of a tomboy with an unfettered creative spirit, while Alice was much more genteel, feminine, and way less adventurous (I often questioned if she was at all). For the most part, the characters were believable with their dispositions and angst and their interactions reminded me of all the make-believe I used to play with my friends during my childhood.
The only other thing I would complain about is that there were a couple spelling errors I had caught. Minimal, but they were still there. This seems to be more common these days, and with all the technology and editors we have out there, it really shouldn't be.
I enjoyed this book, not necessarily for richness of content, but for the sentimentality of watching the characters grow. The Queen played her part well, too, but I definitely don't want her visiting my dreams!
Posted April 10, 2014
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Posted February 23, 2014