Reviews for Doll Bones

by Holly Black

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Twelve-year-old Zach and his friends Poppy and Alice play an elaborate game with their dolls. When Poppy is haunted by dreams of a girl whose ashes are inside the game's queen doll, they embark on an adventure to lay the girl's ghost to rest. The story contains ample thrills, but it also takes on the changes adolescence brings and the tests friendships face. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 4-7-At 12 years old, lifelong friends Zach, Poppy, and Alice are ferociously clinging to their childhoods. Using old Barbies, pirate action figures, dolls from Good Will, and their imaginations, they have created an exciting world of characters in an elaborate game. Figuring heavily in their plotline is the Queen, an antique doll of bone china that belongs to Poppy's mother and is strictly off-limits to the kids. She's also incredibly creepy. When Zach's dad throws away his action figures, the boy is so devastated that he ends the game abruptly, leaving the girls hurt and confused. Shortly thereafter, Poppy reveals that the Queen is made of the bones of a dead girl named Eleanor who has been communicating with her at night. The doll appears to be filled with Eleanor's ashes, and she has promised Poppy that she will make their lives miserable if they don't journey to Ohio, find her grave, and bury her properly. After much persuading, Zach and Alice agree to the journey. The Queen gets scarier and scarier as unexplained events begin to occur along the way. Black has created protagonists who readers will care about, and amusing secondary characters, like a pink-haired librarian and a crazy bus passenger who seems to be able to see Eleanor. This novel is a chilling ghost story, a gripping adventure, and a heartwarming look at the often-painful pull of adulthood. Black-and-white illustrations actually tone down the scare factor a little, making this a perfect starter story for budding horror fans.-Mandy Laferriere, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TX (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A middle-grade fantasy dons the cloak of a creepy ghost tale to deliver bittersweet meditations on the nature of friendship, the price of growing up and the power of storytelling. The lifelong friendship of Zach, Poppy and Alice revolves around their joint creation, an epic role-playing saga of pirates and perils, queens and quests. But now they are 12, and their interests are changing along with their bodies; when Zach's father trashes his action figures and commands him to "grow up," Zach abruptly quits the game. Poppy begs him to join her and Alice on one last adventure: a road trip to bring peace to the ghost possessing her antique porcelain doll. As they travel by bus and boat (with a fateful stop at the public library), the ghost seems to take charge of their journey--and the distinctions between fantasy and reality, between play and obligation, begin to dissolve....Veteran Black packs both heft and depth into a deceptively simple (and convincingly uncanny) narrative. From Zach's bitter relationship with his father to Anna's chafing at her overprotective grandmother to Poppy's resignation with her ramshackle relations, Black skillfully sketches their varied backgrounds and unique contributions to their relationship. A few rich metaphors--rivers, pottery, breath--are woven throughout the story, as every encounter redraws the blurry lines between childishness and maturity, truth and lies, secrecy and honesty, magic and madness. Spooky, melancholy, elegiac and ultimately hopeful; a small gem. (Fantasy. 10-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

When Zach's father insists that the games he-and friends Poppy and Alice-play with dolls must end, the three friends refuse to let their imaginations die. Instead, they set out on an epic adventure involving a china doll that just might be made from the bones of a murdered girl. And along the way, they discover that there could be more to what was once a simple backyard game. Narrator Nick Podehl delivers a fun-filled reading that will delight this audiobook's young-adult target audience. Podhel delivery is simple, his pacing steady, and his performance one that skillfully captures all the action of this imaginative tale. Ages 10-14. A Margaret K. McElderry paperback. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* A trio of adolescents goes on a quest to satisfy the demands of a ghost. Sounds like standard middle-grade fare, but in Black's absolutely assured hands, it is anything but. Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been playing the same make-believe game for years, one involving pirates and mermaids and, of course, the Great Queen a creepy, bone-china doll at Poppy's house. Then Poppy reveals that she's been haunted by a girl whose ground-up bones lie inside the Great Queen, so the doll must be properly buried. Begrudgingly, the three agree to play one last game and hope against hope for a real adventure, the kind that changed you. With heart-wrenching swiftness, Black paints a picture of friends at the precipice of adulthood; they can sense the tentative peace of youth that is about to be demolished. The tightly focused, realistic tale bladed with a hint of fairy-tale darkness feels cut from the very soul of youth: there is no sentimentality, no cuteness, only the painful, contradictory longing to move forward in one's life without leaving anything behind. Stories about the importance of stories ( Maybe no stories were lies, thinks Zach) don't come much more forthright and affecting than this one. Wheeler's sketches ameliorate some of the tension and dread not a bad thing. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Black's best-selling Spiderwick Chronicles pave the way for this powerful stand-alone, which comes with an author tour, in-theater promos, and more.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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 Rofe, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 5-8-Black's tale (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013) of friendship and the trials of growing up is set against the backdrop of a spooky ghost story. Zach Barlow loves to make things up. He and his friends Poppy and Alice spend every afternoon concocting new adventures for their dolls and action figures. However, Zach's recently returned father is less than thrilled about his son spending his time playing with dolls instead of taking part in more age-appropriate activities, such as basketball. When he commits a drastic act to force Zach to give up his play-acting, it precipitates a series of events that send Zach, Poppy, and Alice on a midnight quest to lay to rest the soul of a murdered girl, a soul that now inhabits a bone china doll. Along the way, the trio uncovers secrets about the past and one another, and discovers that they are capable of more than they ever realized. Nick Podehl expertly voices the three friends as well as the unforgettable characters Tin-Shoe Joe and the pink-haired librarian, Miss Katherine. Black has written an adventurous ghost tale that fans of Mary Downing Hahn and Peg Kehret and devotees of the author's previous novels will love.-Michaela Schied, formerly, Indian River Middle School, Philadelphia, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Back