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The Hand-Me-Down Doll

The Hand-Me-Down Doll

by Steven Kroll, Dan Andreasen (Illustrator)

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A lonely doll is passed from owner to owner until she’s adopted by just the right girl.


A lonely doll is passed from owner to owner until she’s adopted by just the right girl.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Originally published in 1983, Kroll’s tale of a nameless, lonely doll on a happenstance journey to find a loving owner is updated for a new audience by Andreasen’s (Train Trip) softly lit and evocative oil paintings, which seem to set the story sometime in the early decades of the 20th century. Spoiled six-year-old Glenda has so many toys that she relegates a new doll with dark curls and a red velvet coat to a shelf where it gathers dust. Glenda’s mother eventually gives the doll to Farmer John when he stops by to drop off eggs. Farmer John and his wife sell the doll to a woman who uses her for a carnival prize, and the doll eventually ends up in the hands of a girl with “a smiling, friendly face.” The predictable yet heart-tugging story whisks readers to a simpler era of playthings that don’t require batteries. Throughout the book, the chubby-cheeked doll looks forlorn (if not downright horrified) at her circumstances, and her expression shifts to one of joyful relief in the final, satisfying spread. Ages 5–8. (May)
Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
In this lovely book, Kroll addresses the universal human need to be wanted and to have an identity of one's own by telling the story of a doll. Though beautifully crafted, the doll originally belongs to a rich child who ignores her; she gets passed on to a farmer, a circus sideshow, a chauffeur, and a newsboy—none of whom hear her plea to be loved and given a name. But in the end, a poor girl named Hayley buys her for a nickel, names her Kaylee, and treasures her, clearly forever. Dan Andreasen's illustrations evoke the 1920's and 30's; like all good illustrations they add enormously to tone and evocativeness of the story. This story could open a meaningful discussion about a range of social-emotional issues, including the need to feel valued and the way having too much can distract us from valuing what we do have. At the same time, this would be a wonderful book for anyone who has come into a second-hand treasure. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
School Library Journal
Gr 2—Spoiled Grenda receives a beautiful doll for her sixth birthday, but she already has so many other toys that she forgets about her, not even giving her a name. Her mother eventually gives the doll away, and she passes from owner to owner until she finally ends up with a child who loves her and a name. This story was published almost 30 years ago (Holiday House, 1983). Most of Kroll's simple and charming narrative remains, but the tale has been shortened a little, and a few phrases that suggest that the doll's value lies chiefly in her beauty have been removed. This version focuses instead on the doll's longing for friendship and love. The new illustrations reflect the wistful mood of the text. The sketchy, three-color pictures of the original have been replaced by realistic oil paintings that are done in soft, sunny hues. The doll's face is the focal point of each picture, and Andreasen effectively shows the longing in her eyes. The book is handsomely formatted with the artwork taking up much of each spread while the text is printed in a large, attractive font on the side. This tribute to the importance of loving and being loved will charm both children and parents.—Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
Kirkus Reviews
A beautiful doll is given to a spoiled little girl who doesn't appreciate the gift. The doll sits on the shelf, unnamed and unloved. She eventually begins a long, lonely journey as she is passed from place to place, each time hoping to find someone who will love her. She decorates a vegetable farm stand, becomes a prize in a carnival game and is finally sold by a street urchin for a nickel. The little girl who buys her names her Kaylee and loves her dearly; she is home at last. Kroll revisits a tale he originally wrote in 1983 with illustrations by Evaline Ness. In this new version, he tweaks it a bit, but leaves the text basically intact, carefully maintaining the essential sweetness of this ever-wistful and patient doll. Andreasen zooms in on the events in vibrant, large-scale close-ups rendered in oil paint on shellacked Bristol board. Each character's expressions and body language carefully match behavior, and each location is textured and detailed, evoking an earlier time without specific markers. Remarkably, although the doll's face never actually changes, a slight change in perspective or light or tilt of the head clearly indicates her feelings of hopefulness, sadness or contentment at each turn of events. A gentle, satisfying reminder of the universal need for love and home. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.50(d)
AD500L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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