Monday, 25 November 2013

Picture Book Review: The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb

This book had been on my radar for a while (there was a huge paper dolls world record attempt in the summer which unfortunately we didn't get around to taking part in) and when we finally borrowed it from the library it soon became a firm favourite with the girls and is now on the Santa list! S has practically learnt it off by heart and loves to 'read' it herself.

Written by the much-loved Julia Donaldson this is a charming story about the adventures of five paper dolls, created by a little girl and her nice mother. The dolls dance, jump, sing and escape the clutches of various predators including a dinosaur, a tiger and a crocodile. But unfortunately a cheeky little boy manages to snip them into pieces...except the dolls survive in the little girl's memory. while the little girl grows into a mother who helps her own little girl make some paper dolls.

It goes without saying that the story is beautifully written. A particular favourite for S is the wonderful song the dolls sing as they escape and the repetition of the song means that she gets really involved every time we read it.

I wonder if it's hard for a new illustrator to be paired up with an author who has such renowned partnerships with other illustrators? But everything about Rebecca Cobb's pictures in this book is a delight, fantastically showing the power of a child's imagination - each of the predators is a harmless inanimate object - a toy dinosaur, a tiger slipper, a crocodile glove - but Cobb shows them as they turn into the 'real' creature, chasing the dolls. They style is very hand-drawn, sketchy which works authentically with the concept of paper-dolls.

I mentioned earlier the world-record-attempt: in fact the book's publisher Macmillan broke the Guinness World Record for the longest chain of paper dolls by almost 2 km! Staggering! People sent it their dolls from all around the world! You can read more about it here and if you're so inspired there are some paper doll templates on the website.


  1. This is a beautiful book and inspired us to make paper dolls - a childhood activity that I had forgotten about!