Patricia Polacco is a master of emotions when it comes to children’s book selections. She knows what makes readers’ hearts ache, what will make them smile, snicker, and drift off to sleep with happy dreams. Bringing yet another sentimental tale to the forefront, Polacco will draw readers in for a heartfelt time involving love, loss, and the amazing things that something as simple as a toy can do.
Mary Ellen’s house has burned down, and with it has gone everything her family owns. Including her beloved dolls. When her mother sees how sad she is, she creates a new doll for her. Mary Ellen loves her new toy, and together they go everywhere. Through thick and thin, Mary Ellen and her favorite dolly stick together. Birthdays, weddings, thunderstorms, it does not matter, the two are together no matter what. It is thanks to this little dolly that lives have been saved, the sad times in Mary Ellen’s life have been made a little easier, and the best times are made even better.
Mary Ellen has a daughter of her own, Trisha. When Mary Ellen passes away, Trisha is heartbroken, but she feels a little better when she discovers something special left behind by Mary Ellen. It is her doll – Betty Doll – and with her is a letter written by Mary Ellen, all about how special this doll is.
All at once, Polacco’s story is a tear-jerking, smile-inducing one that will stick with readers long after the book is put back on the shelf. Using real life experiences, Polacco truly brings this story into the reader’s home with her words and her excellent illustrations. Pencil drawings with careful shading are put together with gently colored parts done in watercolor, making each illustration almost like a well-preserved family photograph. Published in 2004, it is still a favorite among families and children. Kids will feel closer to their parents as they read it – daughters and mothers especially. It is a touching tale that only grows stronger over the years, with ups and downs that real families experience, and a story that some parents and children may be able to relate to.