Our story with The Paper Dolls
My good bookworm friend Nicola gave me this recommendation! I had seen the Bedtime story of it on CBeebies and had enjoyed it on first listen. I promised Nicola to pick it up at the library the next time I was there.
When it came to the Bairn, it took persuasion over a few nights to get him to try something other than King Colin! Eventually, he was won over by Mummy, that if he let her read him The Paper Dolls she would end bedtime with his nightly ritual of the grumpy King!
About the book
The illustrations popped out at me straight away, mostly as I was so used to seeing Donaldson’s collaborations with Axel Sheffler. Rebecca Cobb’s drawing just lifts off the paper in front of you. This is especially effective the first time the chain of 5 little paper dolls float away in the breeze, they really do fly!
“They were Ticky and Tacky
And Jackie the Backie
And Jim with two noses
And Jo with the bow.”
Each paper doll has their own little character or feature, but all exude the same playfulness! Julia Donaldson is a master when it comes to rhyme and with this story she lives up to that title.
The Bairn in particular loved the repetition of the little song the dolls sing as they get out of each scrape and fly away,
“You can’t catch us. Oh no no no!
We’re holding hands and we won’t let go.”
I also liked to add in the actions of the snapping crocodile and the roaring dinosaur – the bairn laughed his head off when I did that!
My personal favourite on the chain has to be Jackie the Backie, she retains a certain air of mystery, but still joins in. I like a bit of added depth there. 😊
What it meant to me and the Bairn
The real risk of the boy with the scissors did make us worry a bit, until magically the The Paper Dolls came back as they always did with their little chant. Phew! It is just so lovely the way they all hold hands, staying together to evade trouble and mishap. Stronger as one unit – like family.
I did feel the bairn lost interest slightly, coincidentally at the part which was my favourite. When the little girl’s stories of her granny, starfish soap and the dolls flew into her memories, it just evokes all the tender feelings I have of my own childhood. The story is so sweet and Cobb’s illustrations here are so intricate and picturesque, woven onto the page like the delicate memories of childhood deserve to be treated. This book spoke to me about the loss of childhood and grandparents, but that as the cycle of life moves forward we have treasured experiences to pass down to our own children.
The denouement of the little girl growing up, becoming a mother and making a chain of paper dolls herself is a lovely ending and the new chain is just as fun as the first chain, again all with their little character traits right there on the page between the words and the pictures.
“And they jumped
and they danced
and they sang.”
We were also lucky enough to have a special World Record Edition of The Paper Dolls. This had a lovely inclusion at the back describing the world record of the largest paper doll chain on 11th November 2013 at the Royal Festival Hall in London. The dolls were sent from all over the globe and there is even a little sample of paper dolls to make your own.
All in all, this is a beautiful and breathtaking picture book in story and illustration. For the bairn, although he enjoyed The Paper Dolls, it’s certainly not been in demand nightly! Myself; I loved it and can see why Nicola recommended it to me. I would urge you all to read it if you haven’t already – especially if you’re a Donaldson fan!
Mummy Rating – *****
Bairn Rating – 🙂