Black, H. (2013). Doll bones. New York, NY: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
This book is a Newberry Honor book and is by the popular tween and teen author holly black. She is probably best known for her tween series the Spiderwick Chronicles. This is one of her more recent books and is a stand alone title. The book is listed as being for ages 10-14 years and focuses a lot on how friendships change as we grow older. The book is also a horror story about three friends who find themselves haunted by a china doll. Poppy dreams that the doll is really a little girl who died and was made into the doll by her father. He ground up her bones to use in the china, used her real hair, and filled the body of the doll with the left over ashes. She tells them they have to travel to a nearby city to find her grave and bury the doll so her soul can finally be at rest. Her friends Zach and Alice aren’t so sure that Poppy is telling the truth though. They believe she is making it up to keep them playing the game the started when they were younger a game that Zach just decided to end but they can’t let her go alone. Once they are on the adventure strange things start happening and while Alice thinks it’s just coincidence Zach isn’t so sure after he has his own dreams of a little girl in a house full of porcelain. The girls start fighting when Alice wants to go back home before they get in trouble but they soon realize they are stranded in an unfamiliar city and might as well complete their task. They break into a library to find a map to the cemetery but get caught by the librarian when the accidentally take a nap. She makes them call their parents then locks them in a break room so she can call her supervisor and find them some lunch. They manage to stop fighting and work together to escape and find the cemetery. The three friends know they are growing up and changing but they believe in the doll and finishing their quest and in doing so they save their friendship.
This is a great book because it combines the pains of growing up and growing apart from friends that tweens will relate to with the mystery of the doll. At first readers like Zach and Alice will be skeptical of Poppy’s ghostly claims but as the friends make their journey the evidence adds up to one terrifying mystery. The book is scary but manages to be so with out blood and gore and perfectly balances the fear of the doll’s haunting with the fear of losing friends.