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Soldier Doll by Jennifer Gold

True history won’t be found in textbooks.

Interests/Topics: history, war, the Holocaust, Toronto, books, vintage clothing, family, social justice, death

Curriculum Connections: English, World History

Gender: F/M

Age: 12+

Blurb: I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I really, really like the movie Toy Story 3. I may even tear up a little bit each time I watch it. You know that scene where it looks as if the toys are all going to die so they hold hands and face death together? It kills me.  And then there’s the last scene when Andy says goodbye to all of them? I’m a mess by that point. Goodbye Woody. Goodbye Buzz. Sob.

I totally get why toys are special. They attend our tea parties and let us dress them up; they keep the monsters away and help us sleep at night; they accept endless cuddles and hold onto all our secrets. Most of all, they’re loyal to us in a world where human playmates often let us down.

When Elizabeth, in Soldier Doll, buys an antique doll for $2.00 at a neighborhood garage sale, she has no idea what’s she’s got. She thought it would be a fun gift for her father, a collector enthusiast (he had been so sure that butter dish he found was a lost relic from the Titanic).

Unlike the dish, the doll turns out to be the real deal…and it’s got a hundred years of secrets.

True history won’t be found in textbooks.

Flavour: “It looks like a doll—at first. It has a doll’s baby face, complete with pink cherubic cheeks and rosebud mouth. The carved and painted hair is soft-looking and yellow-blonde. A closer look, however, tells a different story. The little figure is dressed in carefully painted army finery and stands stiffly, arms at his sides, feet together. Elizabeth looks at the doll with interest. It’s been years, of course, since she played with dolls—she’s fifteen now and much too old for that sort of thing—but there’s something unusual about this one….” (1)

“Elizabeth looks up at the little soldier. He stares back at her from his place on the mantle, serene and full of secrets. Could the little figure really be the soldier doll from the poem? But if it is, how on earth did he make his way to the yard sale? And, more importantly, where could he have been hiding all these years?” (39)

“Dr. McLeod studies the doll. Elizabeth watches as she turns it over and over in her hands, taking note of its features. She does this for some time. After a while, she looks up at them and gingerly places it back on the table…. ‘This could very well be the real thing. I need to run more tests, though.’ She turns the doll back over, gives it a penetrating stare. ‘There’s something, though, something odd–‘  She frowns, thinking.” (78-79)

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