William's Doll (1972)
text by Charlotte Zolotow (Charlotte Shapiro), b. 1915; ill. by William Pene Dubois
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- The main point of this story is to reassure a child who wishes to follow his/her heart in spite of conventional strictures.
- The problem faced by the hero, William, is that he would prefer to play with dolls--rather than the basketballs and toy trains that his dad keeps pushing his way.
- The resolution is brought about by William's grandmother, who buys a doll for William, and reproaches William's father for his narrow views.
- The child appeal of this story is in seeing an outcast outperform his tormentors on the basketball court, and ultimately achieve his dream.
- The parent/teacher appeal of this story is in how it encourages children to seek different options for themselves, as well as building self-esteem for those already engaged in unconventional activities.
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My notes while reading the book
- OK, given how long ago it came out, this book is plenty bold in its theme. But doesn't it end up saying, or at least implying, that William has to work through the "proper games" to earn the moral right to have a doll?
- The overall look of this book hasn't aged well. The illustrations of the little boy mimicking the act (of caring for the doll) remind me of Jules Feiffer's dancer and her interpretive choreographies--except Feiffer is joking, while this guy is apparently dead serious. The other kids are wrong to say that William is a creep, but there is something creepy in the way he is depicted.
- In the end, grandmother is still the only one who uderstands William--what kid would be interested in that? It's the other children who need to accept him.
- Lack of plot won't appeal to children. It comes across as straight preaching.
- Story still relevant today, because gender differences still exist in the way toys are marketed.
- Lacks a sense of humor. It was a very political book when it came out, and perhaps it takes itself too seriously because of that.
This document is at <http://www.sanedraw.com/NOTEBOOK/WILLDOLL.HTM>
Copyright 2000 by Sandro Corsi. Last modified 2000-06-26.
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