Author: R.M. Romero
Published: September 12, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
In the land of dolls, there is magic.
In the land of humans, there is war.
Everywhere there is pain.
But together there is hope.
Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange wind spirits her away from the Land of the Dolls, she finds herself in Krakow, Poland, in the company of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past.
The Dollmaker has learned to keep to himself, but Karolina’s courageous and compassionate manner lead him to smile and to even befriend a violin-playing father and his daughter–that is, once the Dollmaker gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him.
But their newfound happiness is dashed when Nazi soldiers descend upon Poland. Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks.
This book is so beautiful! The cover and illustrations throughout are so gorgeous and really enhanced my reading. This book is perfect for middle school kids learning about the Holocaust. The metaphor of the Land of the Dolls was imaginative and easy to understand. There’s a simplicity to the story that still conveys the evil of the Nazis and the terror of the time without giving too much detail that would be inappropriate for kids. Karolina’s simple view of the world brings good clarity that works for younger readers.
The Dollmaker is such a sweet and gentle soul. Jozef and Rena are the perfect representation of Jews living in Poland during the Nazi invasion and occupation. Even the Nazi soldier that the Dollmaker “befriends” is written so well. I’ll admit that I didn’t engage as perfectly as I wanted to, but it’s really because I’m not a part of the age group that Romero was writing for; I’m not an elementary or middle school student, nor am I just starting out learning about the Holocaust. But I did love the story, the characters, and the setting. This is a book that I would put on the shelf of every elementary and middle school history teacher. It should be required reading in those history classes. I absolutely recommend this book to everyone, especially kids!