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Literature / The Doll People

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The Doll People is a novel series written by Ann M Martin and Laura Godwin, and illustrated by Brian Selznick.

Annabelle is a doll living with her family in eight-year-old Kate Palmer's home. She has lived with the Palmers for over 100 years, and has never had a true adventure in that time—that is, until the Funcraft Dolls move in.

The series

  1. The Doll People (2003)
  2. The Meanest Doll in the World (2005)
  3. The Runaway Dolls (2010)
  4. The Doll People Set Sail (2016)


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This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Annabelle, Tiffany, and Auntie Sarah.
  • And I Must Scream: Permanent Doll State—a rumored punishment for dolls who have done something so reckless that it puts the entire existence of living dolls in jeopardy—is this. Mean Mimi from The Meanest Doll in the World undergoes this, and it's implied that because dolls are still conscious while they are in temporary Doll State, Mimi is still conscious despite being forever immobile.
    • Averted with Auntie Sarah in the first novel, who was trapped under a heavy trunk in the attic for 45 years, but fell asleep for the entire time, leaving her largely unaware of what happened.
    • Played straight with Tilly May from the third novel, who was trapped in a box at the doll shop in London for 200 years.
  • Anger Born of Worry: How Annabelle's Victorian parents react to her coming home late from adventuring.
  • Banister Slide: Mom Funcraft does this a few times.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Mimi after she follows Annabelle and Tiffany back to the Palmers' and pretends to be a sweet and friendly doll.
  • A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family: Both the Dolls—Annabelle, Bobby, Baby Betsy—and the Funcrafts—Tiffany, Bailey, Baby Britney—both apply. Lampshaded.
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  • Cassandra Truth: Kate's sister Nora in The Meanest Doll in the World, when she sees Mimi jump off Kate's bookshelf.
  • Cats Are Mean: The Palmers' cat, named The Captain, is a constant adversary of the Dolls, and a major reason why Annabelle is forbidden to leave the house.
  • Delinquent Hair: Averted. Annabelle is just as sweet as can be—even with her bright green hair.
  • Evil Redhead: Mean Mimi.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Annabelle and Tiffany with the dolls at BJ's house in the second novel.
  • Foreshadowing: The mention of Permanent Doll State in the first novel.
    • A bit of a stretch, but when Annabelle enters Doll State in the first novel, she mentions feeling very groggy and tired. This may be part of what kept Auntie Sarah asleep for all 45 years in the attic.
    • In the second novel, when the dolls at BJ's house are describing Mimi's minions, they mention that one of them is an action figure, which confuses Tiffany and Annabelle because action figures never take the oath. Turns out their confusion was right—he's just a regular doll wearing action figure parts to seem intimidating.
  • Happily Adopted: Baby Betsy. Being dolls, none of them are biologically related, but all the other dolls come from the same set. Baby Betsy wasn't, and was shipped with them by mistake. Her family was relived the Palmers didn't decide to send her back, because they knew she was supposed to be their.s
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Mimi in the second novel. Her plan was to ruin Annabelle's life at the Palmers' home by alerting Kate to the fact that her dolls were alive. However, her jumping out at Kate and being spotted by Nora causes her to enter Permanent Doll State.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Annabelle and Tiffany, in terms of physical age. Annabelle was created in 1898, and Tiffany is nearly brand-new when she meets Annabelle.
  • Jerkass: Mean Mimi.
  • Living Toys: The titular Doll People.
  • The Masquerade: Dolls who have taken the Oath are forced to uphold this, and failure to do so results in their being placed in a temporary "Doll State" where they can no longer move or talk.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Tiffany reacts this way after Papa Doll gets snatched up by The Captain.
  • Plucky Girl: Tiffany. Annabelle as well, although much more downplayed.
  • Rip Van Winkle/Year Outside, Hour Inside: A sort of additional, unnamed form of Doll State explored in the first novel as an explanation for what happened to Auntie Sarah. A doll who becomes trapped somewhere for a long period of time becomes sleepy and dozes off for however long it takes for them to be found, and when they awake, they believe it's only been a few hours at most.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: As a book geared toward young girls, about two young girls (young in terms of emotional development at least) Annabelle and Tiffany's friendship is taken very seriously.
  • Shoutout: "Surrender, Annabelle", which is written on one of the last pages of the first novel, is a reference to The Wizard of Oz.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Mimi, who refers to herself as "The Queen of All Dolls".
  • Speak in Unison: The Cutouts from the second novel do this.
  • Species Surname: The Doll family are dolls.
  • Take That!: To the mindless nature of Barbie dolls and action figures, as it's stated that Barbies and action figures never take the oath.

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