Rosy and her dad create a beautiful dollhouse together. They have a loving and warm relationship. But one day, Dad is taken to the hospital and, for the first Saturday ever, Rosy and her father don’t share hot chocolate and French toast for breakfast. When Rosy goes to play with her dollhouse, she discovers an injured fairy named Thistle. The bulk of the story consists of Rosy helping the messy, mischievous fairy, named Thistle, to recover. When Dad returns from the hospital, Thistle is gone. Together, father and daughter clean and repair the dollhouse. Dad leaves out “a tiny piece of cake for Thistle, just in case….”
The possibility of losing a parent is probably the most frightening concept a child encounters. Rosy copes with this terrifying thought by fantasizing a relationship with the fairy and acting out her frustration on the little dollhouse. Young children will believe that the fairy was real, that this was Rosy’s way of using her imagination to cope. Thistle is an expression of her pain.
This story would be a gentle way to open discussion with a child whose parent has been hospitalized. It lends itself well to conversation about changes in behavior. I would not suggest that the adult explain that Thistle wasn’t real and Rosy actually made the mess. You might want to let the story work its own magic. The Dollhouse Fairy is a story for adults as much as children. The father provides a beautiful example of how adults need to accept, without judgment, the way children cope with grief and fear.
Jane Ray’s illustrations, once again, are detailed and fascinating. Children will be intrigued by all the tiny items in the dollhouse. The love between parent and child and family is apparent in the body language and expression of the characters. I especially like that the family is interracial and intergenerational.