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The Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough and Illustrated by Heather Maione
Published by Viking Juvenile
Pages: 140
Ages: 8-11
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository
Publishers Summmary:

When Anna spots a cat in the yard behind her parents’ doll shop, she is excited. Then she realizes the cat is about to have kittens-even better! And Anna has something else to look forward to: her cousin Tania is coming from Russia to stay with Anna’s family. Anna already has two sisters, but she and Tania are the exact same age-eleven-and she imagines they will get along perfectly. But Tania doesn’t respond to Anna’s friendly overtures, and her sisters don’t seem to like Tania at all. Luckily, Anna finds a creative way to use her love of dolls and cats to bring everyone together.

In a family of three girls the news of an addition to the family comes with mixed feelings. When Anna discovers her new cousin Tania is coming from Russia to spend the year with their family she’s thrilled, though their shared age seems to be the only similarity as of yet. Anna’s sisters find Tania’s quietness and the food she hides odd and instantly dislike her, but Anna quickly accepts her by offering her a new doll she created specifically for Tania. With the addition of Tania the last thing the family needs is a pet, but it may be just the thing to bring Tania out of her shell and potentially solve another problem altogether.

Charming. Absolutely charming and beautiful storytelling are found within the pages of The Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough. Generally speaking I’m not incredibly fond of historically based novels & books for one reason or another, but this story was written so well that I couldn’t help but be taken in by the lovely Anna. Her parents are recent immigrants to the US and have found a way to provide for themselves by creating and selling a line of dolls to companies like FAO Schwartz. For a ten or eleven year old girl I can think of no better place to be than in a family that has a never ending supply of dolls to create and play with, making it the perfect setting for the intended audience.

Obviously Anna’s family is frugal though and the story isn’t simply about the dolls and the doll shop, but about their cousin Tania and the cats that accompany her arrival. Anna was so welcoming to her cousin and it was wonderful to read about not only her desire to make her feel at home but her thoughts about her two sister’s feelings about Tania. It’s the perfect message for a young reader, one of welcoming and comforting those who may be in need of a friend. In addition to Tania the compassion Anna shows toward a family of cats is heartwarming and in the end turns out to help not only the cats but Tania as well.

It would be a shame to fail to note the historical and religious aspects of the story in my review because both were handled incredibly well. In both cases they were so well written that they became more a part of the fabric of the story than an over-arching theme making it accessible for all varieties of readers. Anna and her family are of Jewish descent and there is even a short story about the history of Chanukah, but I never felt as though it was a boring history lesson or preachy in any way. Instead the story and the background shared throughout work to enhance Anna’s character and her family making it all the more enjoyable.

The Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough is delightful historically based middle grade fiction novel. Not only would educators benefit from sharing it with their students, but young readers will thoroughly fall in love with Anna and her charm. Though it’s the second in the series it easily stands alone, but those who haven’t read the first will be clamoring to get their hands on Anna’s first story as well. The Cats in the Doll Shop is a story about kindness, acceptance, giving and friendship all told through the eyes of one delightful young girl who welcomes all with open arms.

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 7 to 12. A charming historically based middle grade novel that young readers will enjoy and learn the importance of compassion from. Highly recommended reading for young readers and educators alike!

Find The Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough and Illustrated by Heather Maione at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads

Thank you so much to the publisher, Viking Juvenile, for providing a copy of this book for review and giveaway! Connect with them on Twitter and on Facebook!
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3 Responses to Book Review and Giveaway: The Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough

  1. OMG this looks so so so cute. And I love that culture and religion are touched upon.

  2. Oh, this sounds like such a marvellous read :) I majored in Russian/Linguistics, so I’m always interested to see something that touches on Russian culture. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  3. [...] Posted in Book Reviews, Giveaways, When I Grow Up | 2 Comments ยป [...]

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