Plumfield Kids Book Review by Greta Masarik, age 13

“They dug in the flower bed, planting many small stones. ‘You look like one of Mother’s flowers. Dahlia! That’s a perfect name for you.’ Dahlia looked back brightly”. —Dahlia

Barbara McClintock in Dahlia will capture your interest with the beautiful illustrations, and delight your imagination with the captivating and sweet story. “Short and sweet” is a perfect way to describe this book. Unlike some picture books about dolls, Dahlia is different. Where most books take the point of view of a girl who loves dolls, this book is from the point of view of a girl who strongly dislikes them. 

“In Charlotte’s room, among the dragonflies and boxes of beetles and found birds’ nests, the doll looked out of place. ‘We like digging in the dirt and climbing trees,’ Charlotte confessed to the doll. ‘No tea parties, no being pushed around in frilly prams. You’ll just have to get used to the way we do things.’” —Dahlia 

Charlotte is a little girl who loves to play outside and do very “boyish” things. Charlotte and her best friend, the teddy bear Bruno, are making mud pies when her mother calls them in. Waiting inside for her is a package from her aunt Edme. The box contains a frilly doll and a note from her aunt. At first, Charlotte dislikes the doll. She thinks that the doll looks terribly breakable. Charlotte tells this doll that she has to do things the way Charlotte and Bruno do them. Charlotte takes the doll outside and plays with her in the mud. Soon she has a name for this doll, Dahlia. She finds out that just because Dahlia is frilly and fancy, doesn’t mean that she cannot still be as much fun as Bruno. They make mud pies, climb trees, and take part in wagon races. 

One of the things I love about this book is that Charlotte has a wonderful imagination. To her, Dahlia and Bruno are alive. However, it feels a bit more realistic as Dahlia and Bruno cannot speak, and cannot move around on their own. I like that it is life-like but still imaginative.  

With a twist at the end, Dahlia by Barbara McClintock is wholesome and charming. This book is sweet and unexpected; I love this picture book and hope you feel the same.  

You can learn more about Barbara McClintock and this book at Biblioguides.