On the first page, the writing style was reminiscent of Jonathan Swift. The author wrote a letter explaining that he had found the diary of a child named Tammy Wurtherington. Once we switched to Tammy’s viewpoint, the language relaxed and became much more suited to a younger reader. I think children ages nine and up would enjoy this book.
The title of the book came from the fact that Tammy was a prodigy seamstress. When she was five years old, she was sewing puppets on her aunt’s sewing machine. For her sixth birthday she asked for a sewing machine her own size and then she started to make doll clothes.
A few years later (like Alice and the talking rabbit) a talking mouse named Alfred took Tammy into a magical word called Kira.
She brought her sewing machine and fabric, which came in handy for making friends. In Kira, like Wonderland, everyone could talk, animals and flowers alike. Tammy was not the right size for her environment in Kira, sometimes too big and sometimes too small. She met a possum named Zeke who was hanging from a tree much like the Cheshire cat.
Unlike Alice in Wonderland, the vocabulary in The Little Doll Girl was easier to understand, the plot made it sense, and there was a satisfying beginning middle and end to the story. There were no-nonsense scenes and things flowed a logical manner. Tammy’s behavior had great positive impact on the world around her.
There was also a little bit of The Wizard of Oz. Tammy was a parentless child lived with her aunt and uncle. Soon after arriving in the magical land, Tammy met the wicked witch who was trying to take over all the kingdoms. However the demise of the witch was not accidental. No house fell on her. No water made her shrink into the floor.
Tammy is a powerful and courageous leader. She makes friends with the Hoarggs who live in the woods and are greatly feared because of their size, strength, and appearance. These become powerful allies in the rebellion against the evil witch. She has a talent for bringing diverse and suspicious people together. Although she arms the rebels and devises war strategy, whenever possible, she uses peaceful methods to solve problems. Her greatest strengths are cleverness, kindness, flexibility, problem-solving, strategy making and friendliness. She is the kind of girl we cheer for.
In the last section of the book, Tammy is portrayed in the illustrations much like Joan of Arc. Like her, she is willing to sacrifice herself for the freedom of the people.
Reynold Jay knows how to build suspense and keep the reader engaged. As Tammy solves one problem, another one arises. The author cleverly puts her in a situation where she seems doomed. But Tammy knows people and she has realized something no one else has.
This is the first volume in a series of Wurtherington Diaries. It is complete fantasy. It would be interesting to look at the following ones that have some historical context such as Tammy and the Declaration of Independence and Tammy and the California Gold Rush.
The author was interviewed on this blog November 9, 2016.
A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.