Cover image for The dollhouse magic
The dollhouse magic
McDonough, Yona Zeldis.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt and Co., [2000]

Physical Description:
83 pages : illustrations, map ; 23 cm
During the Depression, intrigued by the beautiful dollhouse they see in a house window, sisters Lila and Jane befriend its elderly owner and ultimately have a very different Christmas.
Reading Level:
770 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.8 2.0 66068.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.7 5 Quiz: 25815 Guided reading level: Q.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Sometimes Miss Whitcomb faced the inside of the dollhouse out toward the street; other times, it was the facade. Either way, the girls loved to see the way she rearranged and changed it, to fit in perfectly with the holidays and seasons.Lila and Jane can't seem to walk down Cheshire street without stopping at their good friend Miss Whitcomb's home to admire the beautiful dollhouse in her window. Since Daddy lost his job, the girls can only dream of owning a dollhouse as grand. After all, it's three stories, with real clapboard siding and a cedar shingle roof.But one day something sad happens to Miss Whitcomb, and Lila and Jane are devastated. How will the girls find hope in a time of need? Set during the Depression, this heartwarming story proves that friendship is indeed a magic all its own.

Author Notes

Yona Zeldis McDonough is the author of many acclaimed children's books, most recently Anne Frank and Sisters in Strength: American Women Who Made a Difference , both illustrated by her mother, Malcah Zeldis. Born in Israel, Ms. McDonough grew up in the United States and now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and their two children. Diane Palmisciano has illustrated many books for children, including Hannah and the Whistling Tea Kettle . She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her dog, Daisy.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-5. Enthralled by the dollhouse in Miss Whitcomb's parlor window, sisters Lila and Jane are nevertheless uneasy when the elderly lady notices their interest and speaks to them. However, on a common interest, a friendship is formed that ends too soon with Miss Whitcomb's sudden death. In her will, she leaves her beloved dollhouse to Lila and Jane. The writing has an innocent charm that suits the story well. Set in the 1930s, this tale doesn't flinch from the hardships of the Great Depression, nor does it sentimentalize them. Diana Palmisciano's lively black-and-white artwork appears throughout the book, highlighting the warmth and good humor of the text. An appealing beginning chapter book, particularly for doll fans. --Carolyn Phelan

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-When Jane and Lila's father loses his job at the bank during the Depression, the family must move from their big house to the bottom floor of a smaller one on the poorer side of town. Not only are they cramped, but also most of their familiar luxuries are gone. That is why the girls are so fascinated by the elaborate dollhouse in the window of a house on Cheshire Street. One day, while they are admiring it, the elderly owner invites them in. Before long, the girls and Miss Whitcomb are friends. When she unexpectedly dies on Christmas Eve, the old woman leaves the dollhouse to them. Palmisciano's line drawings keep the tone light and include some period details. However, children never get a real sense of the time or of the characters' feelings. For example, when Jane finds three cents and the girls use the money to buy candy, readers are never told that sweets were a luxury during these hard times. Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin's The Doll People (Hyperion, 2000) is a better story about dollhouses.-Barb Lawler, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.