Monday, July 22, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - DOLL BONES by Holly Black

I've been hearing about this book from places like Goodreads, Nerdy Book Club, various bloggers, as well as Newbery Predictions List - and the consensus is lots of raves over DOLL BONES by Holly Black.

Creepy cover, eh?

I'm a doll lover and I was a doll maniac as a kid so anything about dolls intrigues me (I also saved every single doll I ever got, Barbies included, for the daughters I would one day have - and then I got only sons! Grand-daughters, right??)

So I would have picked this book up even if I wasn't hearing buzz about it. Of course, Holly Black gets buzz on everything she writes nowadays! (Did you see the book trailer on her new YA, THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLD TOWN? Yikes! CREEPY TIMES A THOUSAND!)

But I digress . . . 

DOLL BONES is a well-written suspenseful novel. And yet, it's not all plot and danger and creepiness. It's much, much more. 

Jack and Alice and Poppy are three best friends who have spent their childhood playing games of make-believe and going on pretend quests and making up adventure stories using their own dolls and action figures who are featured as pirates, knights and princesses. 

The doll in the book is "Queen of the Land" and when odd things start happening the kids discover the back-story of how the doll was created from the bones of a girl who died "accidentally" almost a hundred years ago - and she's haunting the kids. They believe that in order to help the spirit of the little girl find peace (and quit haunting them!) they need to find the graveyard where she should have been buried. The graveyard where her parents are now buried. Yep, restless spirits and unhappy souls . . .

In order to find the graveyard of the town where the girl used to live with her father who was a ceramic pottery maker, the kids run away from home for two days, get in a lot of scrapes, miss buses, have accidents on the Ohio River, go hungry, and almost tear their friendship apart.

This novel has got a lot of emotion, especially considering the MC is the boy, Jack, who is torn between childhood and adolescence and his mixed feelings about playing make-believe and what his parents are pressuring him to do. Jack's pain is palpable when he is forced into giving up his adventurous game of make-believe due to the actions from his father (no spoilers, but how it happens BREAKS MY HEART!)

This is a story that I couldn't put down and thoroughly enjoyed. It's gotten starred reviews everywhere and there is also Newbery buzz. I'm not sure it will maintain its status as the best Newbery contender (only time will tell) and it's *not* as creepy as the synopsis or some readers have maintained, but it is a well-written book with several growing up themes that are perfect for this age group. 

Maybe I didn't find it that scary because I personally adore mysteries and suspense AND weirdly enough I just finished revisions with my editor at Scholastic for a book that has a creepy doll in it! (I just saw cover art this last week and it's FANTASTIC! Wish I could share . . . maybe in a few months . . . :-))

If you have a child on the young spectrum between 8-12 years old I'd recommend reading this book ahead of time - or reading it with them. But honestly, only super sensitive or kids/students who have not been exposed to any sort of spine-tingling story before should have any problems with this book.

The rest of the MMGM links are below!



- Kate Hannigan joins the MMGM fun with a feature on Stephanie Burgis' series. Click HERE to welcome her to the group. 
- Michelle Mason has chills for VANISHED. Click HERE to see her review.  
- Kimberley Griffiths Little is shivering for DOLL BONES. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Mark Baker is talking about ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN, BOY DETECTIVE. Click HERE to see why he thinks this classic deserves another read. 
- 11-year-old Xander is gushing about HORTEN'S INCREDIBLE ILLUSTRATIONS. Click HERE to see what he thought.  
- Gina Carey is singing praises for THREE TIMES LUCKY. Click HERE for her review! 
- Michael Gettel Gilmarten is spotlighting HAVE A HOT TIME, Hades book 1. Click HERE to see why.
- Medeia Sharif is championing ANASTASIA ON HER OWN. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Natalie Lorenzi is interviewing author Melanie Crowder. Click HERE for all the fun
- Andrea Mack is captivated by THE AVIARY. Click HERE to see why.  
- Rosanne Parry is cheering for SEE YOU AT HARRY'S. Click HERE for her feature.
- Flash, the Feline Extraordinaire, (and Professional Mews to Cindy Strandvold) recommends HALF UPON A TIME. Click HERE to see what that's all about.  
- Dorine White has a review of PENUMBRAS--with a GIVEAWAY. Click HERE for details
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome!    
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.
- Deb Marshall is an MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.  
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)
NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!


Theresa Milstein said...

I'd be curious to read a Holly Black MG book. Her YA books are so dark and edgy.

Jill Haugh said...

I Love MMGM! Every Monday is like Christmas around here and I never have to wonder what I am going to read anymore. Thanks Kimberly for all the links! And thanks everyone for posting, reviewing and offering up your thoughts on MG fiction.
I just posted a review/interview with Meg McKinlay on her must-read MG novel "Below", which starts off "On the day that I was born, they drowned my town."
I've posted the link as suggested. Here's hoping it works. If not, you can find it over at the nut-tree.

Shallee said...

I love Holy Black, and this sounds fabulous! Thanks for sharing, I hadn't heard of it before now.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Hope you like this one, Theresa!

Jill, you are so sweet! Christmas! :-) The novel, BELOW, that you mention has a fantastic first line! I must check it out. Thanks for recommending!

Glad to help you find a new book, Shallee!

Anonymous said...

sounds sufficiently creepy. must take a look!!

Anonymous said...

This one is on my to read list. So looking forward to it! And your review was most excellent. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Wow. A doll made of a little girl's bones? Who would do that? And yet, I've seen other stories with similarly creepy premises. The one that comes to mind is the movie The Red Violin. I'll have to add this one to my TBR list.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Hope you enjoy it, Gina! And Deb, thanks for the kudos on the review - I have not written many reviews before in my life. They are definitely not my forte!

And yea, Michelle, definitely very creepy about bones and dolls . . . I've not heard of The Red Violin, will check that out. Thanks!

Jess Fairday's Blog said...

I love spine-tingling books and this looks like something I will adore. The cover is so creepy and fascinating. I loved your review and I will be checking this one out!



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