The Christmas Doll
By Elvira Woodruff
Scholastic Press, November 2000
B0007OB4MW audio edition
Long ago in London Town, at a time when the muffin man’s cries began the day, and the lamplighter ushered in the night, two young orphans lived together in the bleak, cold shelter of a public workhouse…
Lucy Wolcott and her little sister Glory have no one in the world but each other. Every day, they labor from dawn to dusk stitching blankets and sacks. There is scant little to eat and the nights are cold and damp. The only ray of light in their lives comes from the stories that Lucy invents, stories about a family she barely remembers – and a lost doll named Morning Glory who, Lucy promises, is destined to return to them one day.
When a deadly fever sweeps through the workhouse, the girls flee for their lives to the mean streets of London. There, they desperately try to figure out how to survive.
While searching through the muck by the river, Lucy finds an old, discarded doll which Glory is certain is the long-lost Morning Glory. But Morning Glory is no ordinary doll. And how she leads the girls to the most surprising turns of fortune makes for a heart-warming story that brims with love, hope, and the truest spirit of Christmas.
Praise for The Christmas Doll:
“Imagine that 150 years ago, Charles Dickens decided to write a book just for little girls; a touching tale of not one but two deserving orphans, runaways from the workhouse who are starving in the teaming streets of Victorian London. Through luck, pluck, and assorted amazing coincidences, they find a street wise older boy (an honest version of the Artful Dodger) to help them and a kindly doll-shop owner, Miss Thimblebee who gives the oldest sister a job and eventually provides a loving home for both girls. Dickens, of course, never wrote a tale of two sisters, but Woodruff (George Washington’s Socks) has spun just such a magical story expertly incorporating a dash of Dickens with her extensive historical research in the early Victorian era into her well-crafted plot. Ten year old Lucy and her six-year-old sister Glory, are desperately trying to survive in the crowded slums of London when they find an old doll in the mud next to the Thames River. The plot turns on this particular doll, which is sold for a penny, later refurbished in the doll shop, and then chosen as the Christmas doll for the ailing daughter of Victoria’s gardener. The story is told in short chapters with the author employing another Dickensian device – many cliff hanging chapter endings. Young readers who like the American Girl and Dear America series will enjoy this fast paced historical novel, and mothers or grandmothers will enjoy reading it to girls too young to read by themselves. A ‘dollightful’ surprise for Santa to tuck under the Christmas tree…perhaps in the arms of an old fashioned doll.”—Kirkus, Starred Review Oct.15,2000