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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dory Fantasmagory, by Abby Hanlon. Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin. 2014. $16.99 ages 6 and up

 "Is she a vegetarian?
Does she vote?
Is she nocturnal?
Does she like anything?
Is she powerful?
Does she have a cell phone?
"This is the worst idea we have ever had," says Violet, trying to get away from me.
"Ever," says Luke. "Ever. Ever. Ever."

I LOVE Dory Fantasmagory! She is strong-willed, full of imagination, and the youngest of three siblings. She is a force to be reckoned with, to say the very least about her! As with most little sisters, her older sibs would rather she wasn't anywhere close to where they are. Does that bother Dory? Well, sometimes. Mostly it encourages her to use her imagination to create a host of characters to keep her company, and who appreciate her take on life and her abundant energy for living it fully. Her siblings call her Rascal for many good reasons. They do their best to discourage, even creating a monster named Mrs. Gobble Gracker.

Rascal is unafraid of monsters, and doesn't even mind taking on Mrs. Gobble Gracker; her sister touts her as someone who loves to take baby girls from their homes. It might even be someone just like Dory. Of course Dory turns the tables when she wants to know more about Mrs. GG, and her imagination runs wild in creating the character and then causing great grief for her.  Despite their aversion to spending time with her, Dory loves her brother and sister and only wants to play with them. She is a charmer, but they fail to see it. She is funny, too. They would beg to differ.

Rascal's story could be a bit too sweet; in Ms. Hanlon's deft hand, it is so much more than that. It is a  very appealing story that focuses on family relationships. It is as funny as can be, while also being unusual. It takes some doing, but her plans are finally realized when her brother and sister give in to playing with her. Fait accompli!

Dory is so real, with a strong, clever voice and a big heart. She is a protagonist who proves to be very memorable and heartwarming. I want to see more of her, and you will, too! This is an absolutely terrific book for those readers wanting to move beyond the most basic early readers. As she did in Ralph Tells A Story (Two Lions, 2012), Abby Hanlon includes child-like, appealing artwork to enhance her story and add charm, and even more humor.

Please Abby, we want some more!!!

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