In summer I like to review books that are set during summer. It's not a rule, but I think it works pretty well. Today I'm suggesting a book that is set during summer, the month of June in fact. I was going to post a review in June so it would all fit, but, as frequently happens, things got away from me. The book is Merry, Rose, and Christmas Tree June, by Doris Orgel. The illustrations are by Edward Gorey, who some of you may remember as the artist behind the creepy animation at the beginning of PBS's "Mystery" series.
Running parallel to Jane's story is the story of a lonely, forgotten doll sitting on a back shelf of the doll shop in the town where Aunt Beulah lives: a plain doll who can do nothing fancy and doesn't use batteries or have a pull string like the currant occupants of the store that the owner is so proud of. Obviously Jane and the doll are destined to get together, but the story is written with those near misses that make those kinds of stories so tortuously good.
Some of the best parts of the book are the descriptions of what really goes on in a toy store at night. (The dolls all come out of their boxes and play 'home': "...this time of night when they could move around and talk and play and do anything they wanted".
|The dolls visit 'the zoo', otherwise known as the toy animal department.|
When Great Aunt Beulah finally does take Jane to the toy shop Jane meets several dolls that amaze her at first, but then inevitably leave her disappointed.
|Every doll in the store seems to have a special talent, like growing hair, crying,dancing, or walking.|
Be forewarned: This next picture is the last page of the book, and as such is a spoiler!
It's a fairly short book, with only 78 pages.It's written in an easy to read style with a few larger words and uncommon names, (like Great Aunt Beulah!), but should be ok for kids 7 or 8 and up. If you are reading it to your child, judge for yourself how they might react to the story,but if you think they'll be ok with the scene I mentioned,younger than 7 would enjoy it. My book's copy write is 1970, which means I was 8 years old when I got it, and I survived quite well.
The author, Doris Orgel, is still around, and is now 85 years old. Born in Austria in 1929, Orgel and her family, being Jewish, had to leave Nazi controlled Austria in a story that would make quite a book in itself. After leaving Austria her family lived in Yugoslavia,London, the English countryside,and New York. Orgel has written 65 books, including books for readers somewhat older than those of "Merry, Rose, and Christmas Tree June". She has also translated quite a few books written by others.She is still considered a children's author, and she lives in New York. Illustrator Edward Gorey illustrated his own books as well as others, and designed the sets for the very successful 1970's Broadway production of "Dracula".
|"Dracula", featuring the set design of Edward Gorey.|
I'm not sure if Merry, Rose, and Christmas Tree June is still in print. It can, of course, be obtained online from Amazon, or auction sites. The average low price seems to be between 15 and 20 dollars.For those who love doll stories it's highly recommended...by me anyway!