Summary from Goodreads:
Annabelle Doll is 8 years old--and has been for over 100 years. Nothing much has changed in the dollhouse during that time, except for the fact that 45 years ago, Annabelle's Auntie Sarah disappeared from the dollhouse without a trace. After all this time, restless Annabelle is becoming more and more curious about her aunt's fate. And when she discovers Auntie Sarah's old diary, she becomes positively driven.
Her cautious family tries to discourage her, but Annabelle won't be stopped, even though she risks Permanent Doll State, in which she could turn into a regular, nonliving doll. And when the "Real Pink Plastic" Funcraft family moves in next door, the Doll family's world is turned upside down--in more ways than one! Fans of The Borrowers and Stuart Little will love this exciting story of adventure and mystery. The relationship between the two doll families, one antique, one modern, is hilariously, wonderfully drawn. The Funcrafts are reckless and raucous, with fearlessness born of their unbreakable plastic parts. The Doll family is reserved and somewhat prim, even though they occasionally break into '60s tunes like "Respect" in their sing-alongs. Annabelle is a heroine with integrity and gumption. Ann Martin (The Babysitters Club series) and Laura Godwin create a witty, intriguing tale, illustrated with humor and a clever eye for detail by Brian Selznick.
What a treat! I have read this book once before (many, many years ago). I recommend it at the library all the time and I thought I was due for a re-read. I wanted a light, fast audio book and I got just that. The only sad thing is I missed Brian Selznick’s excellent illustrations. However, I got to listen to one of the best readers I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to. I must find more books read by Lynn Redgrave! Her different voices were amazing. If you told me, five different readers voiced all the characters, I’d believe you. What a talent.
The story is just magical. It’s Toy Story mixed with The Borrowers mixed with something brand new. And I loved it. The idea of dolls coming to life after their people go to sleep for the night, or to school for the day is not new idea. It’s something every kid thinks about. I love that these authors gave truth to this idea. I loved that dolls were given the option of becoming real or not. And Annabelle’s doll family was passed down from generation to generation in her house. I love that the grandmother feels as attached to the dolls as her granddaughter does.
And when the new, plastic doll family moves into the little sister’s house, it was fascinating to heard about the differences. It was like a “new money”/ American family moving next door to the Crawleys’ in Downton Abbey. It was fun to watch. There was a strong emphasis on family and friendship. Annabelle felt lest restless until she found a friend.
I love how brave Annabelle is, despite her china visage. I love that reading her aunt’s diary is the incentive she needs to break away from the comforts of all she knows and to go on an adventure to find her. There’s clear family dynamics and believable arguments between her parents and her uncle. I loved that the dolls have strict time lines to follow. Also, there are so many dangers to factor in that I wouldn’t have thought about. Dangers like a cat, named the Captain, deep stairs being harder to climb up than down, cat beds, and children not being able to fall asleep.
This was a fun, light book. I love recommending it to families who want something light (with no cliques or romantic relationships yet). There’s a sense of adventure and mystery. There’s a big family factor. And there soon becomes a friendship element to the plot also. I give it a 9/10.