Title: The Most Wonderful Doll in the Worldthe-most-wonderful-doll
Author: Phyllis McGinley
Illustrator: Helen Stone
Pages: 64
Reading Level: 9-12
Star Rating: ★★★

Caldecott Medalist.

The Story.

Dulcy loves dolls. And she has lots of them too – Jack and Jill, the blue-eyed twins; Mary-Alicia, the little girl with the braids; Topsy, the clown, and more. But although Dulcy loved her dolls, she was always wishing that they could be a little nicer, a little better than they actually were…

One day, Dulcy’s friend, Mrs. Primrose, announced that she was going away for the winter. While she was gone, she wanted Dulcy to take care of Angela, a very special doll. Dulcy agreed to, but accidentally lost it the same day. Dulcy is devasted at the loss of the doll, not only because she belonged to Mrs. Primrose, but also because she’s convinced that Angela was the best doll that ever lived. In fact she was so wonderful, that none of her other dolls can quite compare…

As Dulcy creates imaginary splendors of the doll that she lost, she becomes very ungrateful for the dolls she already owns. Will Dulcy learn an important lesson in gratitude?

Discussion.

Dulcy is a little girl with an imagination who uses that imagination to fuel her discontentedness. After she loses Angela, she makes up all sorts of wild ideas, pretending that she Angela had a limitless wardrobe, the ability to walk, sing Rockabye Baby, and wave her hand. Her parents, although they wish she would be more grateful, never attempt to curtail her fancies.

In the end, Dulcy finds Angela and is bitterly disappointed to see that she has none of the imagined splendors. Dulcy’s mother, instead of using this as a time to explain the dangers of fantasizing, pities Dulcy and says,

“Poor Dulcy. Everybody has a dream,” said Dulcy’s mother. “And sometimes people get mixed up about what is dream and what is real. That’s how it happened with Angela. You remembered your dream of her.”

“Yes,” said Dulcy, “it was the way I wanted her to be.”

“But as we grow up,” Dulcy’s mother continued, “we learn to be more satisfied with Things as They Are.”

“Don’t grown-ups have dreams?” asked Dulcy.

“Oh, yes,” her mother said. “Of course they do. But they know the difference between what is true and what is not. They keep the dream glowing like a little fire at which they can warm their hearts.” [pg. 54-55]

Dulcy goes back to playing with her dolls and seems happy with them. But the very next time she sees Mrs. Primrose, she once again begins to describe an imaginary far-better-than-she-could-ever-have doll. The only difference is she admits that it’s imaginary.

Conclusion. The original lesson of The Most Wonderful Doll in the World, which is less definite, could be replaced by parents with a definite warming against ingratitude.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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