Lisa Vegan's Reviews > The Doll Shop Downstairs

The Doll Shop Downstairs by Yona Zeldis McDonough
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Nov 21, 09

bookshelves: childrens, fiction, novel, reviewed, historical-fiction, gr-a
Recommended to Lisa by: Chandra
Recommended for: 8-9 year old girls who love dolls or who write, those who enjoy stories about sisters & families
Read in November, 2009

Oh, I suppose the plot is somewhat (but not entirely!) predictable, but I loved this story.

It’s a wonderful story of three sisters and their parents. They’re Jewish, live in New York, and World War I has begun. Nine year old middle child Anna is the very engaging narrator of this story. Her sisters are seven and eleven.

There are wonderful vivid descriptions of the dolls, the rooms of the house including their colors, the sisters and mother and father, the penny candy, the stores and carts, the neighborhoods, and what it feels like to be a Russian American Jewish family in New York City nearly a century ago. Although the story takes place so long ago and this family’s experiences are likely to be incredibly different from those of children today, I do think that today’s girls will enjoy this book very much.

It’s very poignant that the family business is a doll repair shop, but the family is so poor that they can’t afford any dolls for their daughters. However, the girls are permitted to play in a limited way with the dolls in the shop. When World War I begins, doll parts can no longer be bought from Germany so with ingenuity the family finds another slightly different way to make a living.

I would have adored this book when I was eight and nine years old, and I really enjoyed it reading it now too. This book is probably designed to be read by 8 or 9 year old girls but it can be enjoyed by those of all ages, including as a read aloud to younger girls if they can enjoy a story about 7-11 year old girls.

This is truly historical fiction with an emphasis on historical. There’s an author’s note at the end of the novel where she explains that this book is loosely based on a real family and doll shop. In addition to the author’s note, there is also a glossary of terms and a timeline of events in the back of the book.
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Reading Progress

11/20/2009 page 1
0.78% "I have 6 books on my currently reading shelf. I think I'll read this one first."

Comments (showing 1-50 of 53) (53 new)


Lisa Vegan It is. In my opinion. I just put on your listing of it that it might be a good read aloud chapter book for Izzy.


Lisa Vegan This one has 9 chapters and 112 pages in the story. The last 6 pages are the author's note and glossary and timeline. Just fyi. If the kids were slightly younger I'd be clamoring for this for Izzy, and I think she might like it now anyway. It is illustrated too.


message 3: by Lisa (last edited Nov 21, 2009 04:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan I wish I had put in my review that

1. I have such deep feelings of fondness for all of the family member characters, especially nine year old Anna and her father and her mother.

and

2. This would make a wonderful family read aloud book.


message 4: by Lisa (last edited Nov 21, 2009 06:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan I loved the All of a Kind Family books too. I should reread them. I know I loved them but I can't remember them well enough to review them for Goodreads. I should make a point of at least rereading All-of-a-Kind Family.


Lisa Vegan Thanks for that link Abigail. I saved it to peruse that site later. I have a feeling that I"ll find more books to read.


message 6: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough Thanks so much for your lovely words about my book; I really appreciate them. The sequel, THE CATS IN THE DOLL SHOP, is coming out in November, 2011. I really hope you enjoy that too.

Warmly,

Yona


Lisa Vegan Yona, Thanks. I'll definitely look for the next book.


message 8: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough P.S. I adored "All of Kind Family" too so when I hear my book compared to that, I am wildly flattered. BTW, I made some bookmarks with the cover. If you'd like, I could send you a few. Let me know.


Lisa Vegan Oh, thank you, Yona, but I use magnetic bookmarks. I'm always out and about with my books, and the magnetic ones stay in place. I appreciate the offer though.


message 10: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough No worries! Just thought I would offer. ;-)


message 11: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Chandra, I think she would love this book, yes. And, I also have the Louisa May Alcott book on my to-read shelf.

Yes, I know Chandra's story, and it is due to Chandra's mostly glowing reviews/ratings that I started reading and loving that author's books. I think it all ended okay, but it was uncomfortable at first.

I love authors! They're my rock stars, so I'm also (almost always) happy to hear form them via comments on reviews and comments in groups.


message 12: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough Rocks stars--woo hoo! I don't think too many of us feel that way but it's nice to know that one's books are read and valued by others. I have book marks for THE DOLL SHOP DOWN STAIRS/LOUISA: THE LIFE OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT so if anyone wants them, please let me know!


Kathryn Lisa, My mom got this for me for Christmas. I'm so excited! :-) I plan to read it soon.


message 14: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Kathryn wrote: "Lisa, My mom got this for me for Christmas. I'm so excited! :-) I plan to read it soon."

Wonderful gift! I think you'll love it. Eager already to read your review.


message 15: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan In fact, looking back, I can't remember why I didn't give this book 5 stars.


Kathryn Lisa wrote: "Kathryn wrote: "Lisa, My mom got this for me for Christmas. I'm so excited! :-) I plan to read it soon."

Wonderful gift! I think you'll love it. Eager already to read your review."


Thanks! I'll let you know when I read it :-) Soon, I hope.


message 17: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough Hi Kathryn,

If you--or anyone else in this loop--would like signed book plates, please let me know and I will be happy to send them, as well as some cute bookmarks I had made up. You can send your address to: pmcdonough1@nyc.rr.com.

Hope you enjoy the book.

Warmly,

Yona Zeldis McDonough


message 18: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough P.S. Do check out the newest Doll Shop book: THE CATS IN THE DOLL SHOP. It's just out from Viking.


message 19: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Yona wrote: "P.S. Do check out the newest Doll Shop book: THE CATS IN THE DOLL SHOP. It's just out from Viking."

Ooh, I'll definitely do that, Yona. Thanks for all your offers too.


message 20: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Chandra wrote: "Kathryn - I can't wait to see how you like this! This is on my read-with-izzy-soon list for sure!!"

This is a great Chandra & Izzy book!


message 21: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough Lisa wrote: "Yona wrote: "P.S. Do check out the newest Doll Shop book: THE CATS IN THE DOLL SHOP. It's just out from Viking."

Ooh, I'll definitely do that, Yona. Thanks for all your offers too."


Please send your address if you want the book plates & book marks; I'd be so happy to send them.


message 22: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Thank you, Yona. That's very sweet of you. Maybe someday, but I carry my books around with me and have become addicted to magnetic bookmarks that stay put even in books that are moving around. I can't wait to read your next book but it may be a couple months before I have time.


message 23: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough Thanks Chandra; I am so glad you both enjoyed the book. I'd love to send your daughter a bookmark (tell her I use them all the time too, which is why I thought to make them up for other readers like myself) so let me know where to send it and I will do it straight away.


message 24: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough I just got it and wrote you back...Check your mailbox; you'll see something from me soon! ;-)


message 25: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough P.S. I just read that you are a fan of Anne of Green Gables...I must have read that book a dozen times while growing up. I adored it and feel it is part of my DNA. Yet my own daughter has not shown any interest...Maybe yours will.


message 26: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan I just upped this from 4 to 5 stars. Don't know why I didn't give it 5 to begin with, perhaps because it's a novel for slightly younger children than most I am used to reading. I just started The Cats in the Doll Shop and while the author's note at the end is highly disturbing, the book so far (2?, 3? chapaters?) utterly charming.


message 27: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough Hi Lisa,

Why did you find the author's note "highly disturbing"? I am so curious. I had hoped it would give readers some insight into the origins of the story and lend a depth to the fictional characters. Was this not so? Please tell as I am so interested.

All best,

Yona Zeldis McDonough


message 28: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Well I haven't gotten that far into the book but learning what that real kitten went through I find horrifying, even with the happy ending. Shouldn't I find such a thing highly disturbing?! Doesn't mean it's not a great story and doesn't mean it shouldn't be in a book. I often gravitate to disturbing books/content, always have.


message 29: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough I guess I do too, as both reader and writer. Drawn to the dark notes: The Velveteen Rabbit,A Little Princess, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn--all have sad, disturbing elements. I am glad that this does not detract from your appreciation or enjoyment of the story though. Sorrow sharpens and intensifies the joy in life, or so it seems to me.


message 30: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Yona, Oh no; it wasn't a criticism at all. Just duly noted.

I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Little Princess and so many other dark content books. Have you ever read Summer of My German Soldier? (for older kids)


Kathryn Yona wrote: "Hi Kathryn,

If you--or anyone else in this loop--would like signed book plates, please let me know and I will be happy to send them, as well as some cute bookmarks I had made up. You can send you..."


Thank you so much, Yona! I apologize for not responding sooner but I somehow never got the "update" email with your comment. It would be an honor to receive a signed bookmark. I will email you :-)


message 32: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough Just wrote to you about this--keep your eye on your mailbox!


message 33: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough Lisa wrote: "Yona, Oh no; it wasn't a criticism at all. Just duly noted.

I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Little Princess and so many other dark content books. Have you ever read ..."


No, I have not read that but now I am intrigued, and will look for it. I also read "Of Mice and Men" when I was about 10 or 11. Fairly broke my heart; I cried so hard at the end. But it was a profound reading experience and one that really shaped me.


message 34: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Introspective and thoughtful kids, except those exceptionally sensitive, and sometimes even then, do seem to enjoy emotionally tough books. I did, although reading Black Beauty when I was eight practically destroyed me, and I've never reread it.


message 35: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough My daughter too! When she finished it, she asked,"How could you have given me this book, Mommy?!" She was also about eight. And just devastated.


message 36: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Ah, we're apparently kindred spirits.


Kathryn Lisa, thank you so much for recommending this book to me! :-)

Yona, I loved your book. Thank you for sending the bookmarks and bookplates. I look forward to reading the sequel!


message 38: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough I am so delighted you enjoyed the book--makes my day! I hope you enjoy the sequel too--there is much that is familiar in it, but much that is new too.


message 39: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Kathryn, I think you'll also love the sequel.


Kathryn Thanks, Yona and Lisa. I look forward to it :->


message 41: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough Oh,thank you for saying this! In some ways, I like it even better because it goes a bit deeper.


Kathryn Yona wrote: "Oh,thank you for saying this! In some ways, I like it even better because it goes a bit deeper."

I'm looking forward to that. My only "criticism" of the first book is that I wanted more, LOL, so I am glad that my wish is granted ;-)


message 43: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough You are so sweet! I actually have an idea for a third and final book called GOOD-BYE TO THE DOLL SHOP. If it comes to pass, I will let you know.


message 44: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Yona wrote: "You are so sweet! I actually have an idea for a third and final book called GOOD-BYE TO THE DOLL SHOP. If it comes to pass, I will let you know."

Yes, please do, Yona. I would definitely read it!


message 45: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough I certainly will! ;-)


message 46: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Yona wrote: "I certainly will! ;-)"

Thank you. (I see a 3 box set.)


message 47: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough From your lips to God's ears, as they say in my tribe!


message 48: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Yona wrote: "From your lips to God's ears, as they say in my tribe!"

I think we're part of the same tribe.


message 49: by Yona (new)

Yona McDonough Then you know just what I mean! Did your grandmother say that oh, about 50 times a week? Mine did.


message 50: by Lisa (last edited Jan 23, 2013 02:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Yona wrote: "Then you know just what I mean! Did your grandmother say that oh, about 50 times a week? Mine did."

Actually, no. I have a weird, heathen family. ;-) But I have friends... ETA: And distant relatives.


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