The Very Little Princess: Zoey's Story

The Very Little Princess: Zoey's Story

by Marion Dane Bauer, Elizabeth Sayles
     
 

Regina is only 3-1/4 inches tall, but she knows from the moment she wakes up in her dollhouse bed that she is a princess. Why else would she have such a lovely pink gown? Why else would she have such golden hair and flawless skin? And why else would she have a four-foot, curly-haired human creature to wait on her? Meanwhile Zoey, that four-foot, curly-haired

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Overview

Regina is only 3-1/4 inches tall, but she knows from the moment she wakes up in her dollhouse bed that she is a princess. Why else would she have such a lovely pink gown? Why else would she have such golden hair and flawless skin? And why else would she have a four-foot, curly-haired human creature to wait on her? Meanwhile Zoey, that four-foot, curly-haired creature, has always dreamed that someday one of her dolls would come alive. But in her dreams, the doll never ordered her around. The doll didn’t call her a servant. And the doll was a whole lot nicer!

In a classic storyteller’s voice, Marion Dane Bauer tells an exquisite tale of friendship, family, and loss, laced with humor and joy.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Bowman-Kruhm Ed.D.
The first line, "This is a story about a girl and a doll" (p. 1), summarizes the main thrust of this book and "Lives are complicated things" (p. 64) carries the theme further. Fourth-grader Zoey lives alone with her mother, who repeatedly assures her that "Two is a just-right number" (p. 5). Zoey has never known any other relatives until one day her mother tells her to pack for a trip to her grandmother's house. After they arrive, while mother and grandmother argue downstairs, a tear from Zoey's eye awakens a beautiful but arrogant and demanding tiny doll named Princess Regina, who becomes the playmate she was for her mother and grandmother. For years the doll has returned to sleep whenever left alone and is awakened only with a child's tear. After Zoey's mother drives off, Zoey admits to Regina that events in their lives were not always perfect and the doll eventually comes to life when she herself cries. The cover and black-and-white drawings inside the book match the story perfectly. Although an appealing fantasy, the late and limited intrusion of the storyteller periodically speaking to the reader as "you" does not happen until the beginning of chapter three, p. 23, and is jarring. Even more jarring is her mother's insensitivity in attempting to drive away forever without a goodbye. This quick exit from Zoey's life could possibly trigger fears in a young person: Could a loved adult easily leave the reader's life? Adults should be cautious about recommending this book to a child experiencing personal family difficulties. Reviewer: Mary Bowman-Kruhm, Ed.D.
Publishers Weekly
In this blend of family drama and fantasy, Bauer plays with the classic notion of a doll coming to life, but in truth, the story is about a girl and her mother. One day Zoey’s single mother takes her to visit a grandmother she never knew existed. Bewildered by the obvious friction between the two women, Zoey explores the house and discovers a tiny china doll, who is brought to life by Zoey’s tear. Zoey has always believed toys could come alive, but is peculiarly rewarded for her faith as the domineering doll convinces Zoey that she is a princess and Zoey her servant. As the relationship between girl and doll develops, Zoey’s mother’s character unfolds in unsettling pieces. Told in alternating points of view between the doll and Zoey, with frequent addresses to the reader—“Just about now, you’re probably wondering what kind of story this is, anyway”—Bauer’s novel raises worrisome, unresolved questions about Zoey’s fate. The characters’ flaws give the story realism and depth, but those expecting a sunny, traditional tale will likely find it more disturbing than magical. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 6–9. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
Imagine you're a four-foot-tall girl visiting a Grandmother that you never knew you had and you find a beautiful, 100-year-old doll that comes alive in your hands. Imagine you're a three-and-a-quarter-inch ceramic doll who is a princess and whose new servant girl, Zoey, is the third generation to bring you to life with tears. Imagine a fanciful, doll-coming-to-life story that turns into a disturbing tale of abandonment. An intrusive narrator poses questions to readers and sets up the dual point of view. Zoey and her mom's arrival at Grandma Hazel's immediately starts with arguing and tension. Zoey avoids the spitefulness by playing with the doll. Just 22 pages from the end, Zoey, and readers, realize what's happening, as she watches her mom get in the car and drive away without a hug or kiss, just the words, "I need to be by myself"-the only clue to this betrayal was that her mom didn't bring a suitcase. That the story takes place in one day lends immediacy, but young girls expecting a sweet doll story are likely to be shocked by the abrupt ending, which leaves no hope or happiness. Sayles's final art not seen. (Doll fantasy. 6-9)
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5— When Zoey's mom whisks her out of their Minneapolis apartment to her grandmother's house in the country (the grandmother she never knew she had), the 10-year-old is excited but curious. Instantly she feels the tension between her mother and Grandmother Hazel. Seeking relief, she explores the house and finds a dollhouse with a beautiful doll in it. When an accidental tear falls from Zoey's eye onto the tiny china face, Princess Regina comes to life and begins to order Zoey around. The doll returns to her inanimate state when her mother leaves without a promise of return. Bauer weaves a fairy tale into a contemporary story of parental mental illness and resulting neglect. She depicts Princess Regina as alternating between alive and inanimate until she is touched by Zoey's tears and recognizes the compassion within herself. Now permanently alive, Regina joins Zoey and Hazel (who once owned the doll) and they adjust well to the life they share. While this book can be read simply as a fairy tale or on deeper levels of love and loss, it elicits the magic of The Velveteen Rabbit and Pinocchio, where only through love does one become real.—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375856938
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
07/26/2011
Series:
A Stepping Stone Book(TM) Series
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

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