HOUSE OF DOLLS book cover

HarperCollins 2010
Written by Francesca Lia Block
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock

In a little house from another time, with lace curtains in every window and paintings hung in gold doily frames, Wildflower, Rockstar, and Miss Selene live a warm and cozy life. They wear fancy dresses, bake play-dough cakes, and spend their days enjoying one another's company.
For the three dolls, life is small but good.

But life is not good for Madison Blackberry, the owner of the dollhouse. Her grandmother pays more attention to the dolls than to her. The dolls have one another, but she is lonely in her big, empty apartment.

Then one day, as things always do - even for dolls - everything changes.
(ages 8-14 )

*Starred review, Booklist

“Grief, inhumanity, redemption, and several layers of metaphor-what heavy lifting Block does in just 80 pages! From the outside, this feels like just another doll tale (which makes it work for younger readers): the book itself is just a few inches in either direction. McClintock's illustrations are of the precious and timeless variety, and Block's plot involves a touch of magic and plenty of pretty dresses...What at first seems to be about the perennial war between familial generations is expanded into a message about the global forces of pride and avarice that plunge innocents into devastation. This is powerful, haunting, and-just when you don't think it's possible-inspiring, too.” — Starred, Booklist

“Madison Blackberry is bored, despite the beguiling charms of her dollhouse, complete with its sentient inhabitants...The dolls' cozy family life is essentially a deliciously described dress-up tea party, and Madison-largely ignored by preoccupied parents-is jealous.”The combination of boredom and jealousy is a dangerous thing,“ and Madison maliciously takes away what her dolls love best...Themes of war, loss, loneliness and love deepen the story's more fanciful aspects, accentuated by McClintock's delicately etched pen-and-ink illustrations of luxurious interiors and frilly gowns...Experiencing Block's atypical storybook is like peering into an ornate sugar egg and seeing tiny sad people and soldiers inside instead of pink frosted bunnies. An emotionally resonant surprise.” — Kirkus

“Fans of Block's edgy novels and admirers of McClintock's traditional artwork will be equally surprised by this unusual yet successful pairing.” — Publishers Weekly

Buy the book >>