MISS POLLY HAS A DOLLY

Frances Arrington, Author, Pamela Duncan Edwards, Author, Elicia Castaldi, Illustrator , illus. by Elicia Castaldi. Putnam $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-23857-4

This catchy song, whose musical notation is given as an endpaper bonus, explains that "Miss Polly has a dolly who is sick, sick, sick/ She calls for the doctor to come quick, quick, quick!" In her foreword, Edwards (Some Smug Slug ) recalls skipping rope to the rhyme, and now feels the need to give it closure ("I was always puzzled by the fact that we never knew if Miss Polly's dolly recovered from her illness," she writes). Here, pink-cheeked Miss Polly worriedly watches a frowning, yellow-faced doll in a pea-green dress. Her physician, a boy who rides a red tricycle and wears blue scrubs, listens to the doll's heart with his stethoscope and writes "1 pill for dolly" on a scrap of paper. Miss Polly offers a button-size blue pill, marked with a big "P," to the sad-faced doll, who takes a nap and wakes up smiling. In the slightly awkward closing couplets, the doctor pronounces the doll "fit, fit, fit": " 'Miss Polly,' says the doctor with a great big beam/ 'Let's take the dolly out for... ice cream, cream, cream!' " Castaldi, making her children's debut, creates loose collages of paper scraps, photos and crayony lines, à la Vladimir Radunsky or Lauren Child. She gives the doll some concerned nursery friends like a stuffed pig and rubber duck. Unfortunately, this playground verse comes across as an unironic encounter between a conventionally male doctor and housewifely mom—sprightly but strangely old-fashioned. Ages 3-6. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 12/08/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
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