cover image Secrets from the Dollhouse

Secrets from the Dollhouse

Ann Warren Turner. HarperCollins Children's Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-024564-1

In this tender if familiar picture book, a doll named Emma lovingly describes the fellow denizens of a dollhouse, which belongs to Girl and Boy. Emma also colorfully tells of the exciting (and sometimes dangerous) adventures she and the other dolls have with Girl and Boy. Butler and Papa become soldiers for Boy's war game ""with rifles in their hands and tall red hats."" Emma travels outdoors in Girl's coat pocket, watching snowflakes fall. Emma protects her infant sister, Baby, from the mice that lurk at night and, with the rest of her family, worries about the ominous-looking Cat, who peers in the windows. But after Cat rescues Baby from disaster, Emma decides she's had her fill of adventure and is content to stay home, a domesticity celebrated in a concluding dollhouse Christmas feast. Appearing one per spread, Turner's (Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies) vignettes, written in verse, invite readers to approach them one at a time, like poems, or to read them together as a story. Col n's (A Band of Angels) distinctive scratchboard art suggests the texture of wood, befitting his renderings of the dolls and their house. Given Col n's fluid lines and warm shading, the figures of Emma and her family neatly and subtly shift from clearly inanimate to nearly human. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)