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Book Review: Pretty Dolls by Kimberly Dana

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Pretty Dolls by Kimberly Dana, a finalist in the Children’s Picture Book category at the 2011 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest, is a delightful story about overcoming jealousy and the love a girl can share with her special doll, no matter what she looks like.  

Little Tasha has several dolls, but her favorites are Emily-Nicole and Gracie.

Emily-Nicole is the most beautiful of all, with porcelain skin, silky red hair and turquoise-blue eyes. She spends most of her days perched on the top bookshelf case with the other beautiful dolls.

Unlike Emily-Nicole, Gracie has tufts of brown hair (from when Tasha played hairdresser), purple eyes (from when she played artist), and a missing arm. She’s not at all beautiful like Emily-Nicole. But Tasha loves her because she’s the snuggliest of all and that’s why she always carries her around.

Unbeknown to Tasha, once she’s deeply sound asleep in the quiet of the night, Emily-Nicole, jealous of Tasha and Gracie’s closeness, starts making fun of Gracie and calling her cruel names. The other pretty dolls giggle and together they mock:

Pretty eyes and pretty hair. We’re the best dolls anywhere. If you were a pretty doll, you’d be up here standing tall.

Night after night the banter continues. As Emily-Nicole becomes more and more jealous, she turns increasingly cruel. Her heart becomes just as cold and porcelain-like as her beautiful face. Deep inside, though, she suffers. She would like to be the one to snuggle up with Tasha instead of standing on the shelf all day and night. She just can’t understand why Tasha prefers Gracie when Gracie is so ugly compared to her.

One day, Tasha’s dog Victor charges into the room and rocks the bookshelf back and forth, making Emily-Nicole stumble and fall. He snatches her into his mouth and shakes her, then heaves her into the air and she lands on Tasha’s bed… right next to Gracie. Will the other dolls help Emily-Nicole or will Gracie?

Pretty Dolls is an adorable picture book for girls aged three to eight. It is a story about kindness and discovering new friendships. The book offers a valuable and lovely message about what it means to be truly beautiful and about accepting others, even if they look a little different to us.

The language is simple and engaging, appropriate for this age group. The illustrations are charming, a splash of color on the pages with a lot of pinks and purples. There’s an accompanying audio book included with Pretty Dolls, which can be downloaded for free from the publisher’s website at Tate Publishing and burned onto a CD or saved to a portable device such as an iPod. Recommended.

Author Kimberly Dana is an award-winning English teacher. In addition to writing for children, she also writes for young adults. You can visit her at her website

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About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.