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Before Sally's Nana can finish ...
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Before Sally's Nana can finish filling in the faces on a row of paper dolls which she has cut out, the five sisters are whisked off on a series of extraordinary adventures.
One lazy day, young Sally's grandmother draws "a wild, adventurous girl with sticking-out ears" on a folded piece of paper and cuts it out—a paper doll linked to four blank outlines. The "sisters" are instantly whisked off, carried by breeze, bird, and fortune, passing in turn through the hands of a child artist and a sad songwriter, spending years marking a place in a student's forgotten textbook, and returning at last to Sally's own daughter, Olivia. As the conscious but unformed blank dolls are filled in, one per stop, they acquire names of their own, and character traits from their creators, each of whom receives an epiphany—an inkling of what he or she will become. Flat but lively, the paper dolls swoop through a world of rounded, realistically modeled details in MacCarthy's numerous, perfectly placed pencil drawings. The fragile dolls narrowly escape destruction again and again, so this can be enjoyed as high adventure, but Mahy, with her gift for expressing complex ideas simply, makes clear to readers that the five dolls together represent a whole person, endowed with the Courage, Love, Sorrow, Wisdom, and Laughter required to live well. They are last seen sailing off (in a paper boat, of course) toward a metaphorical, dimly perceived but long-sought island. A superb story, gracefully told.
Posted November 8, 2000