My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Children's Middle Grade Fantasy
Imaginative play tends to fade away the older we get and this is what has Poppy so worried about the changes she is seeing in her best friends Alice and Zach. These three friends have spent most of their young childhoods together playing a never ending but always evolving game that takes their imagination into that wonderful world of fantasy full of mermaids, pirates, thieves, and warriors. And of course the Great Queen, the ruler of this imaginative land, who is based off of the bone china doll that Poppy's mother keeps locked up in a cabinet. Afraid of the game stopping and of her friends growing up and leaving her behind Poppy decides to free the Great Queen from her mom's curio cabinet, punishment be damned, as an enticement to keep Zach and Alice in the game. But most things in life are not that easy and Poppy gets more than she bargains for when she releases the doll from its glass prison.
What if the Great Queen wasn't just any type of doll? What if the bones from a dead little girl were used to make the doll? Creepy right! Even creepier is that the ashes of that same little girl are hidden inside the doll! Goose pimples, do you have them? I know I do.
Eleanor Kerchner's ghost is not happy that what remains of her body is in the doll itself and not properly buried so that her soul may rest. And you don't have to be well read in the horror genre to know that an unhappy ghost is not really a good thing. So Poppy, Zach and Alice go on a quest to put the Great Queen in the ground so that Eleanor's soul may rest in peace. Along the way they meet some nice people and some really creepy people, that reminds you why we don't let kids go wandering off by themselves, but they finally reach their destination of East Liverpool, Ohio. Sounds easy right. Wrong! Buses are taken, then they flee the bus, then they camp out and then walk, then steal a dinghy/boat; well you get my drift it is not an easy quest like they thought it would be and this journey stretches and pulls at the band that ties their friendship together. After everything they finally arrive but have no idea how to go about finding Eleanor's empty gravesite so that they can bury her. They break into the library find some maps and make a plan but weird things that had been happening along the way only get worse when it seems that the Great Queen got up and walked off on her own! As they search Zach finds Eleanor's story amongst some of the collections in the library and realizes that Eleanor died a horrible death that drove her father crazy. After finding the Great Queen they are able to finish up their quest and they put Eleanor/the Great Queen to rest finally. But what about their friendship? Well I have never heard of an adventurer that only ever went on one quest!
I found this book creepy in a really creepy way, LOL!
A great adventure story for middle graders but not those that may scare easy, like I would not let my daughter Livy, who is a 5th grader, read it because she would be dreaming about dead people inhabiting dolls for weeks and she would want to put her AG Dolls up on Ebay! I know you get what I mean. There were some parts that just didn't flow very well but the heart of the story and the friendship it represents is a great lesson at this age when kids tend to generally grow apart from one another and then you also have the dread cliques start to rear their ugly heads, sigh.
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