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Winner of a 2014 Newbery Honor Medal.
Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever. And for almost as long, they've been playing one continuous, ever-changing game of pirates and thieves, mermaids and warriors. Ruling over all is the Great Queen, a bone-china doll cursing those who displease her.
But they are in middle school now. Zach's father pushes him to give up make-believe, and Zach quits the game. Their friendship might be over, until Poppy declares she's been having dreams about the Queen--and the ghost of a girl who will not rest until the bone-china doll is buried in her empty grave.
Zach and Alice and Poppy set off on one last adventure to lay the Queen's ghost to rest. But nothing goes according to plan, and as their adventure turns into an epic journey, creepy things begin to happen. Is the doll just a doll or something more sinister? And if there really is a ghost, will it let them go now that it has them in its clutches?
Doll Bones is a winner of the Newbery Honor, is the recipient of six starred reviews, was on four Best Book lists, and was called "perfect" by The New York Times.
- ISBN-13: 9781416963981
- ISBN-10: 1416963987
- Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
- Publish Date: May 2013
- Page Count: 244
- Reading Level: Ages 10-14
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-03-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Zach plays with dolls. Never mind that they’re action figures, heroes in a wild, improvisational saga he acts out with friends Poppy and Alice. Never mind that he’s a solid student and rising basketball star. Zach is 12, and his father has decided this must stop. While Zach’s at school, the dolls go to the dump, and Zach is left with only rage. He quits the game, but Alice and Poppy haul him out for one more quest: a bus trip to lay to rest the Queen, a bone china doll that Poppy swears is made from the bones of a murdered girl. Another crazy quest from Poppy’s fertile brain? Or could this ghost story be real? The wonderfully eerie doll, the realism of the kids’ improbable logic, and the ache underlying every character’s actions create as much a state of existential anxiety as narrative tension. Black captures the adolescent sense that things are about to explode before they get explained. And it’s a darn good adventure, too. Ages 10–14. Author’s agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (May)
Delightfully creepy child's play
Holly Black, co-author of the best-selling Spiderwick Chronicles and author of several fantasies for teens, aims her latest book, Doll Bones, squarely at the middle-grade audience. Zach, Poppy and Alice have just the right mix of hanging-onto-childhood imaginations and coming-of-age interest in the world beyond make-believe.
For several years, the three friends have been playing an ongoing game with their action figures, but real life is starting to get in the way. When Zach’s father intervenes and prevents Zach from continuing the game, the friendship is challenged and may not be reparable.
The game they’ve been playing becomes more important, however, when Poppy reveals that her mother’s antique china doll—the “queen” of their story—has been haunting her dreams. Poppy steals the doll from the forbidden cabinet in her home, insisting that she and her friends go on a quest as mandated by the “queen,” and from then on, their childlike make-believe starts to become disturbingly real.
This is a spooky story, and the adventure the three embark on is thrilling, but the real drama is the underlying sense of these preteens letting go of childhood and moving into their grown-up selves. Conflicts at home, difficulties relating to each other and secret feelings all combine to make this a great book for those “in-betweeners.” Black’s prose is fluid and lyrical while maintaining its characters’ 13-year-old vocabulary, which will no doubt help the book find a delighted audience in middle-school readers everywhere.