Woodruff, Elvira. The Christmas Doll. Illustrated by Troy Howell. Scholastic, 2000. ISBN 0-590-31872-1. $15.95. 151 pp. A 2+ FI Reviewed by Susan Woods Ten-year-old Lucy and her six-year-old sister, Glory, run away from a public workhouse for orphans to avoid contracting a fever that is quickly killing girls all around them. They spend several days and nights trying to survive the streets of London, during which Lucy is nearly overwhelmed by the task of caring for her little sister. As Christmas approaches, Lucy has the good fortune of becoming a temporary seamstress in Thimblebee’s Doll shop. She is given a bath, some lovely clothing, and the job of sitting in the shop window where she sews hearts on the dolls. After closing time, Lucy has a nice meal and a warm place to sleep by the fire, which she shares with Glory and their friend Nick. Eventually Lucy’s love for a very special doll and the Christmas spirit touches the heart of the shop proprietor, who takes the little girls into her home and adopts them. The two girls work happily in the doll shop for many years. Woodruff has crafted a story with the same feel as Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, Burnett’s A Little Princess, and Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. The story is based on the author’s relationship with her own two sisters while growing up. The story is one of patience amidst cruelty and suffering, love for the oppressed, and triumph over poverty. Readers will weep at the sadness of the two girls and cheer at their courage and honesty. Anyone who loves dolls and little girls will enjoy this sweet story.
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