Instead of playing video games or hanging out at the mall, Zach, Poppy, and Alice immerse themselves in an intricate fantasy adventure game that they play using dolls. As Zach gets older, though, his father believes that he should be focusing more on sports and friends than on imaginary games. When Zach finds the entire cast of his game is thrown away, he is distraught, but can’t bring himself to tell his friends the truth. Instead, he tells them that he’s “too old” to play. But, just as Zach believes he is leaving the game behind forever, mysterious messages from the game’s queen, a china doll locked in a glass cabinet, begin to emerge. Suddenly, the trio finds themselves wrapped up in a mystery/adventure that haunted by supernatural forces.
This one has some serious creep-factor when it comes to that doll. Very spooky. It’s also an excellent story of how friendships change as you get older, as well as the pain of growing out of your childhood activities. Though this may sound like a weird book about kids who play with dolls (and it is), it’s also an entertaining adventure read with a surprising twist at the end. Is the doll even real? It’s up to you to decide.
*Newbery Honor, 2014