The Doll by Nhung N. Tran-Davies


The Doll by Nhung N. Tran-Davies
Publisher: Second Story Press
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.), Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A young girl and her family arrive in an airport in a new country. They are refugees, migrants who have travelled across the world to find safety. Strangers greet them, and one of them gives the little girl a doll. Decades later, that little girl is grown up and she has the chance to welcome a group of refugees who are newly arrived in her adopted country. To the youngest of them, a little girl, she gives a doll, knowing it will help make her feel welcome. Inspired by real events.

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There was so much compassion included in the plot. Some scenes were straightforward about the many benefits of caring about the suffering of others, while others encouraged the audience to think things through for ourselves when needed. This was a wonderful way to speak to readers of many different ages and ability levels, whether they are already naturally compassionate or are still working to improve this skill.

With that being said, the intended age group this picture book seemed to be written for felt a bit too large to me. Some portions appeared to be written for preschoolers, while others touched on serious topics like why refugees are forced to leave their home countries that would be more interesting and appropriate for older elementary students. While I appreciated the fact that the author tried to reach so many different ages, I do think the story would have benefitted from reducing its scope a little so that it could go into more detail about issues related to this type of immigration. It’s an important subject that older kids should definitely be educated on.

The ending was by far my favorite part of it all. It had a straightforward message that built on everything the author had decided to include in this fictionalized version of something that really happened to her as a child. I loved the fact that it trusted its audience to make certain logical leaps between the narrator’s memories and what she hoped everything would take away from her tale. It was a nice way to wrap things up in the end.

The Doll was a heartwarming read.

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