cover image The Five Sisters

The Five Sisters

Margaret Mahy. Viking Children's Books, $14.99 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-670-87042-4

In another writer's hands, a plot involving talking paper dolls could be disastrous. But Mahy (The Door in the Air; The Greatest Show Off Earth, see p. 69) has a dazzling touch with fantasy, elevating it from potential silliness to lyrical inventiveness. One day, a girl's grandmother cuts out five paper dolls. She draws a face and clothes for the first one, but before she can finish all five, they blow away on a talking breeze. Thus begins a years-long journey in which each of the remaining four dolls is drawn by different people who chance to encounter them. Their adventures include being shut in a chemistry book and almost being chopped up by a lawnmower; they end with a return to the first owner and a sailing trip in a paper boat to a magical island where ""the voices of the world sang and whispered and grumbled and joked and argued all around them."" Readers who crave a dose of enchantment in their fiction will savor this diversion. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)