Story Snug The Paper Dolls
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The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson & Rebecca Cobb

The Paper Dolls is a beautifully gentle story about a childhood activity which encouraged us to make our own paper doll chains 🙂

The Story: A little girl and her mother make some paper dolls. The dolls sing and dance as they meet a dinosaur, a tiger and a crocodile before a boy with a pair of scissors comes along. He cuts them up into tiny pieces but the paper dolls reform in the little girl’s memory. The little girl grows up and becomes a mother who makes paper dolls with her own daughter.

The dolls all have names and particular characteristics and they repeatedly sing a short song about who they are and how they always hold hands. At first I was surprised that this wasn’t a rhyming story like most of Julia Donaldson’s other picture books (although the dolls sing their little rhyme) but the simple text still has a lovely rhythm. The little girl is introduced on the first page along with some of her possessions which play various roles throughout the story. Then the dolls take over and we follow them through their activities and adventures around the playroom and the house before going into the garden where we meet the little boy. Despite knowing what is going to happen this is the point in the story at which my daughter cuddles up closer for comfort while we are reading. There is enough time for a child to form an attachment to the dolls before they are cut up so there can be a real sense of loss when they are destroyed.

Rebecca Cobb’s illustrations complement the simplicity of this story perfectly, they really bring the dolls to life. The colours are muted and most of the pictures have light coloured backgrounds. The introduction of a darker background when we meet the boy alerts the reader to the fact that his intentions might not be good but once the defiant little dolls fly off the lighter background returns. My daughter is fascinated by the little girl growing up at the end of the story and has constant questions about her becoming a mother to her own little girl.

Making paper dolls is a great classroom activity which could be tailored to any topic – spacemen, Vikings, teddy bears etc. I think it would be fantastic to use this book to stimulate story writing for older children, they could write a story about the second set of dolls.

We made our own paper dolls to help PanMacmillan beat the world record for the longest ever chain of paper dolls and raise money for Save the Children. A set to cut out and colour can be downloaded from their website.


This is a lovely story that mixes fantasy with reality and illustrates the importance of childhood memories. It is on the shortlist for the 2013 Scottish Children’s Book Awards.

Author: Julia Donaldson / Illustrator: Rebecca Cobb

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15 responses to “The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson & Rebecca Cobb”

  1. OneMommy avatar

    What a cute idea for a book! My daughter has a set of paper dolls, but we have never tried making our own. We may need to check out this book and have a little fun with it!

    1. Catherine avatar

      The paper dolls from Macmillan are cute to colour, you can download a set that you just colour or a set that you can add the features yourself 🙂

  2. Lizann Flatt avatar

    Thanks for sharing this book with the June Carnival of Children’s Literature. It sounds lovely and I will look for it.

    1. Catherine avatar

      You’re welcome – there were some great posts this time.

  3. Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews avatar

    Oh, a new Julia Donaldson book! How can you go wrong? I love that paper doll chain. I’d love to try that with my kids – it looks like fun. Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop! 🙂

    1. Catherine avatar

      We’ve made paper dolls for friends instead of making them birthday cards 🙂

  4. Cheryl Carpinello avatar

    I’m in the group with Laura. Haven’t even thought of making paper dolls in eons! Thanks for sharing with the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Cheryl, Hop Hostess

    1. Catherine avatar

      I’d forgotten all about making paper dolls too, this book is a great one to revive childhood memories 🙂

  5. Laura Huggins avatar

    Haven’t made paper dolls in years. I think Cameron will enjoy making these

    Thank you for linking up with Mini Creations

    Hope to see you again next week

    Laura x x x

  6. Cindy avatar

    What a delightful story, indeed! And a great way to not only interact with a story, but to interact with each other (parent and reader). Plus, the illustrations ARE adorable!

    1. Catherine avatar

      The illustrations are beautiful and I’m absolutely sure we’ll be making many more paper dolls! Thank you for visiting Story Snug 🙂

  7. Heather avatar

    Thank you for this lovely summary. Our daughter has 2 little paper dolls that she often plays with and makes up all sorts of stories with them. This book sounds like a good one to buy for her. And we love Julia Donaldson stories.
    Thanks for the tip on downloading the paperdoll template. We will definitely be doing that.

    1. Catherine avatar

      This story is very different to the other Julia Donaldson stories but for me it is a classic story that will stand the test of time.

  8. Kriss avatar

    Thanks – this new Julia Donaldson book is a must have! Will also be downloading the paperdoll templates.

    1. Catherine avatar

      We had a lot of fun making the paper dolls 🙂