The Dollshop Downstairs
Written By Yona Zeldis McDonough
Illustrated by
Heather Maione
Chapter Two Discussion and Comments

I had to empathize with Anna in this chapter - I have always been a good reader and writer, and I liked most of school, but Math is a four-letter word, and it struck fear into my heart, particularly when I got up in the grades and had to deal with abstracts, like algebra.  I still can't manage algebra.  I felt Anna's anxiety over the impending exam, and I felt her relief to get the "B" on her test.  You can tell that Anna has middle child syndrome when she remarks that Sophie's "A" made her "B" seem shabby.  I get the feeling she doesn't believe that she measures up to her big sister.  I'm both glad and sad that her borrowed doll, Bernadette, is the only one she thinks she can talk to, but at least the doll seems to comfort her as dolls have a way of doing. 


speaking as a big sister--I can totally empathize with Anna.  It's hard being a middle child, because the first has already done it and the youngest is the baby.



My sister was made to feel she didn’t measure up because her teachers always compared her to me
and expected her to match my achievements. She always had test anxiety, and I suspect she could have had a wee bit of dyslexia as well.

She was much better at playing with dolls than I was. I always had my nose in a book, or was busy making doll clothes.

 Anyone else ready to add their 2 cents about Chapter 2?


Just caught up on re-reading chapter two!

I loved reading and spelling in school. I did okay in math, as well, though I did get some pretty horrible grades in handwriting ... yikes! And I was a chatterbox, so I got in trouble for that too.

I didn't have a small doll like Hitty to take to school with me (wouldn't Anna have loved something like that!), but Cabbage Patch Kids were very popular then, and I had some eraser figurines that were just right for holding in your hand during an anxious test. I still have my eraser CPK; he lives in my dollhouse with my other miniatures. They were very thoroughly painted, so they weren't much good as erasers, but he's held up well as a mini.

Thinking about how to set this scene, I used Google to hunt for printable animal cracker boxes, and lo and behold! PaperMinis has a complimentary sample of animal crackers in several scales, including Hitty. I subscribe to one of her dollhouse series, and have bought several Hitty size products, though my fingers have trouble with such fiddly little work. But here's the link to her site, and if you scroll down you'll see the animal crackers box: Paper Minis: doll and dollhouse pre-printed, easy-to-make, do-it-yourself (DIY) kits available in many scales.



I can relate to Anna’s thoughts.  I was not a middle child—I was the oldest but I learned to read before I went to school—I’m 87 so there was no kindergarten but I learned to read from the billboards.   I was always a bout a grade ahead of everyone in my class!!

 I hated Math but could learn it easily.  When I was a Freshman I took the Algebra State scholarship tests for my class.  One problem—Once I left school I forgot most of it. I used encyclopedias—I love Wikipedia and Google now!!!!!!!!!!  Tho I am pretty good at Trivia!

 On the other hand—my husband who worked hard for his grades still knew almost everything he’d until he died! 

I went to a small country school so most of the teachers had taught me and also taught my 3 sisters. All 3 of them were very smart—they just couldn’t pick it up as fast as I could—and they remembered it much longer than I did

 I was also the one who did crafty things and had to take care of the other 3  only 2 of us left now, tho.

 I’m really enjoying the book!!

I am enjoying this book very much and can relate to Anna.  I am the middle of 5 children with two older brothers and 2 younger sisters.   As the older sister by 7 years it was fun to share my dolls and their accessories with my sisters.  I had mostly outgrown dolls but would play with them secretly and having younger sisters gave me an excuse play with them more openly.  I probably acted like Sophie at times but I hope not too often!  Sometimes I would be the 'visiting aunt' or other character they needed to make their make believe doll stories more real.  Reading about the life of these sweet girls and how hard their parents worked and how little they had reminds me how blessed I was to own my own dolls!
I struggled with multiplication too!  My poor 4th grade teacher must have been so happy to see me move up to 5th grade!  She was very mean and would hit us on the back of the shoulder with a ruler for any behavior she didn't approve of.  I'm surprised I could learn anything in that class, I was so frightened of her.  

Thank you for this group!  I can play with dolls all I want now and the book discussion is another way to get to know everyone.  

Judy K


My 12 year old granddaughter told me she is affraid of dolls . I think her mom influenced  her in this "fear" .

My great niece seems to be the only doll lover. The youngest grandsons all love grandmom's doll house . They have a doll house of their own here and a family of wooden dolls. Pauline

What a wonderful pretend day for the girls and the dolls on such a rainy Saturday especially after the difficult week that Anna had in school.  Being terrified about a test in the subject that doesn't make you feel good, is what a number of children feel, but they have difficulty telling the right people who could help them.  Good thing that Anna got her paper before the week-end so she could have a lovely tea party with the dolls.  Oh, such lovely memories are the making for Anna.  Trudy and Sophie probably won't remember as the dolls don't seem to mean as much to them as it does Anna.  I'm with Anna.

I agree--although the other two girls apparently enjoy the dolls every bit as much as Anna, it seems to me that Anna is the one who *feels* the most anxiety. If she hadn't gotten her paper back in time, she might have been too anxious to enjoy the play.


My Hittys liked the impromptu tea party idea and decided to re-create the scene using their little dollies. 

The former bed box works great as a table and the bedspread makes a wonderful tablecloth.  And the former mattress/headboard gave them a bit of cushioning for sitting on the hard floor.  They even found a glass salt cellar for the centerpiece and a small thimble to use as a cup, just like in the book. These girls are more resourceful than I thought!

Photo is in the book album.

Susan D
There's so much to enjoy in this chapter ... I love how Anna sees that her mother looks poised despite having less than fashionable/expensive clothes, and slips her hand into hers, proud of her. Don't we just need more of this real appreciation! I went onto the FAO Schwartz website, and they still sell Madame Alexander dolls! (the dolls that Anna founded all those years ago). But they don't sell Hittys!

I love the coming understanding between the girls, even if it evolves unevenly - and how she so tactfully helps to bring Trudie around to seeing what fun the hamper of tea dishes would be! And then how Sophie doesn't get angry with Trudie for breaking a doll's plate.

Caro - late agane ;-)

Chapter 2


I enjoyed the description the children’s’ walk to school.

They walked past Guttman’s Pickle Shop with their favourite crunch pickles,

Zeitlin’s Bakery with the most delicious cinnamon buns,

the shul where they went to Saturday services

and listened to stories from a big book with beautiful colour illustrations,

and the empty lot where they join neighbourhood children play tag and stickball, and jump rope.


I also enjoyed the description of the unusually quiet streets on Saturdays…

When Anna might notice a cat with newborn kittens ,

Or a sparkling broken locket,

Or other interesting sights that might be overlooked on a normal day.


The highlight of the chapter is the transformation of the box bed and blanket

Into a table with tablecloth

And tea with sisters and dolls.

Our grandchildren love tea parties,

and our daughter often treats them to one on her day off.

The cutest tea-party of all was when our 6 foot five son had a tea party with our two year old grand-daughter,

And they both sipped apple juice out of tiny tea cups.

Susan K in ON