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Kafka and the Doll

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Based on a true story about Franz Kafka

Inspired by a true story, Kafka and the Doll recounts a remarkable gesture of kindness from one of the world's most bewildering and iconic writers. In the fall of 1923, Franz Kafka encountered a distraught little girl on a walk in the park. She'd lost her doll and was inconsolable. Kafka told her the doll wasn't lost, but instead, traveling the world and having grand adventures! And to reassure her, Kafka began delivering letters from the doll to the girl for weeks.

The legend of Kafka and the doll has captivated imaginations for decades as it reveals the playful and compassionate side of a man known for his dark and brooding tales. Kafka and the Doll is a testament to living life to the fullest and to the life-changing power of storytelling.

48 pages, Hardcover

First published March 9, 2021

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About the author

Larissa Theule

9 books26 followers
Larissa Theule lives with her family in Southern California.

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5 stars
270 (60%)
4 stars
145 (32%)
3 stars
27 (6%)
2 stars
6 (1%)
1 star
2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 92 reviews
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,934 reviews687 followers
May 6, 2023
Beautifully reconstructs the story of how Kafka wrote letters to a little girl who had lost her doll - he made it seem as if the letters were coming from the doll - we do not have the real letters as the little girl has never been identified. Wonderful art that really meshes with the story.
Profile Image for Ashley.
1,405 reviews19 followers
March 30, 2021
What a cool story based on real events! Loved Green's depictions of the doll off on her adventures, and Theule used just the right amount of artistic license to bring this story to life and make it fun for children. Appreciated the notes on the true story in the back and Theule's decision to give Soupsy's adventures a different ending. Love love love the illustrations--clear lines, beautiful palette.

Would recommend this for kids who would be interested in hearing about Kafka's letters as well as younger kids who would enjoy the story of a doll off on a bunch of adventures. Could be used in classrooms as a lesson in kindness to younger children. Could also be used after a child loses a precious toy (as a fun story or as an idea generator for the parents). Would recommend for ages 5 to 10.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,614 reviews192 followers
June 9, 2021
This was genuinely sweet. I didn’t expect the author of Metamorphosis to have been so sweet and kind to a girl who’d lost her doll by writing the girl several letters from her doll, who Kafka posited was off having adventures.
Profile Image for Maria (i Mikri Vivliofagos).
149 reviews140 followers
April 17, 2022
Είναι από τα καλύτερα παιδικά βιβλία που έχω διαβάσει και πλέον το κατατάσσω ανάμεσα στα πιο αγαπημένα μου! Τι να πρωτοπεί κανείς γι' αυτό το βιβλίο! Φοβερή εικονογράφηση, υπέροχη γλυκιά ιστορία και τόσο όμορφα μηνύματα! Αγάπησα την ιδέα του βιβλίου και το γεγονός ότι η συγγραφέας άλλαξε το τέλος της γνωστής ιστορίας του Κάφκα προσαρμόζοντάς το στα σημερινά δεδομένα (όσοι το διαβάσετε θα καταλάβετε τι εννοώ)
Το προτείνω ανεπιφύλακτα! Διαβάστε το χθες!
Profile Image for L'amante des livres.
130 reviews37 followers
September 10, 2022
Στο σημείωμα της συγγραφέως Λαρίσα Τούλι διαβάζουμε πως το Φθινόπωρο του 1923 ο Κάφκα ζούσε στο Βερολίνο με τη Ντόρα Ντιαμάντ, την τελευταία και πιο αληθινή του αγάπη. Μια μέρα που περπατούσαν στο πάρκο συνάντησαν ένα κοριτσάκι που είχε χάσει την κούκλα του. Ο Κάφκα της είπε πως η κούκλα δεν είχε χαθεί, απλώς ταξίδευε. Για 3 εβδομάδες έγραφε γράμματα στο κορίτσι, γράμματα με αποστολέα την κούκλα. Βοήθησε έτσι το κορίτσι να ξεπεράσει την απώλεια.

Χρόνια αργότερα η Ντόρα διηγήθηκε αυτά τα γεγονότα στη βιογράφο του Κάφκα, Μάρθα Ρομπέρ. Κανείς απ' όσους έψαξαν δε κατάφερε να βρει το κορίτσι και τα γράμματα. Η ταυτότητα του κοριτσιού παραμένει άγνωστη και τα γράμματα χάθηκαν. Μόνο οι αναφορές της Ντόρα υπάρχουν.

Σύμφωνα με τη Ντόρα, ο Κάφκα στο τέλος έβαλε την κούκλα να παντρεύεται και να κάνει οικογένεια. Αυτή ήταν η καλύτερη προοπτική για ένα κορίτσι το 1920: ο γάμος. Όμως η συγγραφέας επέλεξε ένα άλλο τέλος για την κούκλα, πιο συμβατό με τη σύγχρονη εποχή όπου τα παιδιά έχουν πολύ περισσότερες επιλογές.

Ο Κάφκα πέθανε τον Ιούνιο του 1924 από φυματίωση.

Το βιβλίο αυτό είναι υπέροχο. Είναι τρυφερό, συγκινητικό, γεμάτο συναίσθημα κι αγάπη. Η εικονογράφηση της Ρεμπέκα Γκριν είναι εξίσου εκπληκτική, σε τόνους φθινοπωρινούς και μελαγχολικούς που ταιριάζουν απόλυτα στο ύφος και την ατμόσφαιρα της ιστορίας.

Εξάλλου, μία αύρα μελαγχολίας στροβιλίζεται γύρω από την εικόνα του Φραντς Κάφκα, όταν φέρω στο μυαλό μου το όνομά του. Αν υπήρχε μηχανή του χρόνου θα ήταν από τους πρώτους συγγραφείς που θα ήθελα να γνωρίσω. Τον αγαπώ και μόνο γιατί έχει γράψει τη "Μεταμόρφωση", ένα από τα αγαπημένα μου αναγνώσματα.
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,408 reviews463 followers
September 5, 2022
I was not previously aware of this anecdote, and it is charming and thoughtful and sweet. The art is a nice accompaniment, with the autumnal shades and unfussy style.

The author's note at the back explains a bit more and says the author changed the text of the last letter, a decision I disagree with. A hundred years on one can criticize or disagree with Kafka's choice. One can do that well enough in an author's note, or even invent a bit of dialog or inner thoughts of Irma. But one should not take a true story, present it as a true story, and then change the end. The copyright page says it is "historical fiction," the flap blurb says "inspired by a true story," but few people will read, let alone remember, those caveats.

It's a lovely book, and I am happy to learn the story, but also a little vexed. Perhaps this will spur me to read a biography.

Library copy
Profile Image for Jonathan Jakobitz.
242 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2021
Based on a true story, a charming and beautifully illustrated story about kindness and connections
709 reviews9 followers
March 12, 2021
I had heard this story before, and always wondered if it was a true story. Well, it appears that it is. This is a charming book.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
91 reviews1 follower
June 7, 2021
Not going to lie; this one made me cry. Beautiful story.
Profile Image for Perihan.
469 reviews119 followers
December 10, 2021
What a cool story based on real events! I loved it. In my opinion, It was a very heartwarming story.

There was a bit of sweet sadness but more of hope.

The story is about Franz Kafka’s friendship with a little girl who had lost her doll.

It was so lovely to see a gentle side of Kafka. His lovely and thoughtful letters to a little girl show us how caring and kind he could be.

To me, Franz Kafka is a literary genius and has always been saddened by his tragic life and early death :(
Profile Image for Julie.
855 reviews
September 8, 2022
This was a darling story. I was told by a friend she didn’t think it had child appeal, just adult appeal. I disagree. For the more thoughtful, reflective child that doesn’t need all the flashy pictures and over the top action, I think it has great appeal. But what do I know, as a adult…..
Profile Image for Beth.
391 reviews
July 8, 2021
So nice to see a gentle side to Kafka. His sweet letters to a little girl show how caring he could be.
Profile Image for Jodi Geever.
1,227 reviews4 followers
July 2, 2021
How did I never hear about this absolutely heartwarming story? Loved this one!
Profile Image for Peg.
763 reviews11 followers
July 2, 2021
This is a really short story but it sure gave me a much different view of Kafka.
Profile Image for Anne.
532 reviews6 followers
December 1, 2021
I'm not sure which is sweeter - the book or the story behind it?
This is a gloriously rendered interpretation of when author Franz Kafka comforted a young girl who had lost her doll by writer her letters from the doll on her travels. It is sweet, genuine and perfectly formed.
Profile Image for Mayar El Mahdy.
1,568 reviews1 follower
June 27, 2021
The story is so sweet, it warms my heart every time I hear it.

The artwork is quite beautiful as well. I think children would love this.
Profile Image for Erin.
1,227 reviews7 followers
May 15, 2021
I love this so much. It is such a sweet and moving story and how wonderful to discover it is inspired by true events. The author's note and biographical data about Kafka are great additions because my previous opinion about him was based only on one forced reading of the Metamorphosis in college and that didn't leave me with many positive feelings. It was nice to add some additional depth to his story. I briefly thought, after finishing this book, "Should I re-read the Metamorphosis?" I most probably will not do that, but I will read this again many times.
Profile Image for Natalie Tate.
596 reviews8 followers
July 19, 2021
It's not too often that I read a picture book based off an encounter between a little person and a writer—and Kafka at that.

This little story was pure bittersweetness. I had to pass it to my husband to finish because the tears came like a waterfall.

A gentle story of grief and letting go, suitable for the picture book crowd.
Profile Image for Tina Hoggatt.
922 reviews3 followers
May 21, 2021
I have long loved this story of the author Kafka and a little girl who lost her doll. How lovely it is to find it so beautifully realized and extended in a picture book. Kindness, understanding, and the passage of life are somehow all conveyed in the text. Lovely illustrations by Rebecca Green.
49 reviews
September 25, 2020
Got a sneak peak at this one, and it’s amazing. Just the ray of light we need with the world around us in flames.
Profile Image for Steph.
4,490 reviews48 followers
March 21, 2021
That time when I found myself crying my eyes out in the middle of the bookshop...
Profile Image for Halina.
209 reviews
March 22, 2021
It reinforces the power of narrative in shaping our lives.
Profile Image for Amy.
661 reviews
April 19, 2021
Sweet, well-illustrated, story about Franz Kafka’s friendship with a little girl who had lost her doll.
Profile Image for Pinky.
6,554 reviews14 followers
September 5, 2022
Kafka writes letters for Soupsy the doll to ease the suffering of Irma her friend.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for &#x1f336; peppersocks &#x1f9e6;.
1,219 reviews13 followers
December 2, 2021
Reflections and lessons learned:
“Kafka viewed life through a sharp probing lense, and the stories he wrote are disorienting, even nightmarish… sometimes life is a bewildering journey…”

Oh! A beautiful reimagining of words to comfort, in a form to cherish even though unseen, and best left as a mystery. A wonderful understanding to attempt acceptance of ownership and loss, which is surely the hardest lesson, even when in its modern version crayon form too
Profile Image for Heidi.
757 reviews22 followers
Read
November 4, 2021
Beautiful pictures, and while I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

Cute picture book based on a true event, with a fictional twist. I like the premise… also, I am glad to have read it via my Library Loan system.
Profile Image for Katey Thompson.
249 reviews32 followers
May 25, 2022
Acts of kindness (however small or simple) make for enchanting stories. Especially when they’re true: like this one.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 92 reviews

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