cover image Betty Doll

Betty Doll

Patricia Polacco. Philomel Books, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23638-9

Polacco (Thank You, Mr. Falker) again elegantly embroiders a patch from the fabric of her own life in a moving tale that demonstrates the importance of family legacies. ""I know that someday you'll read this when your heart is aching,"" reads the note that the author finds attached to Betty Doll after her mother's [Mary Ellen's] death. Mary Ellen's letter goes on to explain how, as a girl, she and her mother made the doll from scraps of cloth after her other dolls perished in the fire that destroyed their home. Readers will happily tumble back in time as the fluid, conversational narrative reveals anecdotes underscoring Betty Doll's importance in Mary Ellen's life. For instance, the sight of Betty Doll who had fallen out of her owner's book bag alerts the child's father to her whereabouts during a blizzard; and when the girl is bedridden with a fever, Betty keeps her company. Over the years, the author and then her own children find solace in the beloved doll, who ""kissed away tears, soothed hurt knees and was a guest at hundreds of tea parties and slumber nights."" In an effective graphic manipulation, the doll alone appears in color against Polacco's finely detailed black-and-white art, which smoothly incorporates framed family photos arranged on tabletops. Together, text and illustrations credibly and poignantly capture the powerful bond among four generations of a loving family. All ages. (Apr.)