cover image Finding Walter

Finding Walter

Ann Warren Turner. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200212-1

Two families in turmoil--a doll family and a human family--share the stage in this fantasy, which partly succeeds. Emily and Rose have to move to Gran's house in the country for a year because of their father's heart attack. In her attic, they discover an old dollhouse untouched for 20 years, and a doll family comes alive, distressed because their baby Walter is missing. The quaint, old-fashioned doll family is more believable than the human family, as they plot to hitch a ride on the family dog to find Walter (whom they discover stashed in a hole in the woods and fallen to pieces). The humans' story may be harder to grasp, since it, by turns, seems to be set in modern times (they have a dishwasher, and their dad eats bran muffins for his health) and to harken back to a distant past (the girls carry handkerchiefs and wear dresses to play in the dusty attic, with not a TV or radio in sight). Turner (Rosemary's Witch) has some nice moments: one terrific scene involves an out-of-control trash fire--to the dolls lost in the forest, it's an inferno they can survive only by diving underground; and angry Rose will only hear the dolls talk when she puts aside her ire and believes in them. If one had to choose between the two families, the winner is clear: it's a doll's life. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)