Jenny's Picture Book Review: 'The Paper Dolls' by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb

I'll admit that I wasn't at all sure about this one from the behemoth that is Julia Donaldson, but it's really grown on me and my four year old daughter loves it.

It's also one of those great books that can inspire an activity on a rainy winter afternoon, so would recommend it as one to take out of the library.




The little girl makes paper dolls and has some great adventures with them. Rebecca Cobb's illustrations deftly transform the everyday items in her home to rich imaginative landscapes – where the tiger slipper becomes a real tiger and the crocodile oven glove tries to crunch the paper characters. Her innocent use of line perfectly matches the story of a little girl's creativity.

There is a great refrain throughout which my daughter always joins in with – 'You can't catch us, oh no no no! We're holding hands and we won't let go...'

Then comes a boy with a pair of scissors, and you expect the dolls to escape again, but they don't. This is where I wasn't sure at first – it seemed very harsh, brutal even.

The paper dolls then fly into the little girls memory. I thought this was a bit twee - but actually, it's quite a good lesson about loss, and about the power of memory, and without sounding too deep 'the impermanence of things'.

The story ends with the little girl growing into a mother herself, and making paper dolls with her own daughter. And so the dolls live on.

I'm not sure how this would play with a boy, but it's a great jumping off point for creativity for mum and daughter. We made these dolls on rainy day last year and, although battered, they're still proudly on her bedroom wall (despite her baby brother doing his best to destroy them like in the book!).