I read The Doll Hospital (Atheneum, 2018) to my little guy this morning. I am familiar with author Kallie George‘s The Heartwood Hotel series (I’ve read #1 and just loved it!), and I really enjoyed illustrator Sara Gillingham‘s ‘In My Series.’ In My Tree is one of my favorite book-before-bed selections right now!
I love the idea behind The Doll Hospital: a doctor, Dr. Pegs, becomes overwhelmed when the number of dolls (and one teddy bear) in need increases so much that she has to call in extra help. Many readers will be able to relate to feeling overwhelmed at the amount of new tasks that suddenly interrupt our plans to sort buttons, for example. But, I must admit I liked the premise of this children’s picture book more than its story delivery.
I have been reading Linda Ashman‘s The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books this summer, and one of the central messages of her text is that a children’s picture book must have a exemplary story. And The Doll Hospital comes up a bit short in this area. I wanted there to be a bit more “pop” – either in the story’s conflict (it could be amped up a bit to drive the narrative a bit more) or the addition of more humor (there is great potential to create some hilarious episodes). Having loved The Heartwood Hotel, I know George has the ability to provide stunning details in a rich narrative.
I have no doubt that some children will love the book, especially those who have their own waiting room of injured dolls and stuffed animals. I, however, needed a bit more substance.
A fine book, The Doll Hospital earns three stars.