Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Do Toys Have Feelings?

I have to chime in here to Milady Blues and Alison's musings about this subject. Do toys have feelings? Movies like Toy Story certainly want us to believe that they do and I think most children accept that, without ever really thinking about it.

As a reader, there are a host of books out there for children that promote this idea. One of my all time favorite books, and one that I still reread at least once a year, is Magic Elizabeth by Norma Kassirer. The book is about a young girl, Sally, who is sent to live with her great Aunt who lives in a large rundown old house. The aunt is not used to children and Sally spends most of her time looking for a doll, the Elizabeth of the title, that she sees in a painting and who has been missing for decades. Now Elizabeth never talks, nor are we privy to her thoughts, but magical things happen around her that give the reader the idea that yes, she is somehow "alive." Sadly, this book is now out of print, but copies can be found on the internet.

Another author who delves more into this idea is Rumer Godden. Ms Godden wrote a whole host of books about dolls and their owners. Specifically how these dolls, and the love they inspired, changed the lives of their owners, or would-be owners. The dolls in these books, unlike the toys in Toy Story, do not move, but we do hear their thoughts and emotions. And how hurt they are when mistreated or neglected.

Personally, these books greatly influenced me as a child, and still do. I mentioned in my introduction that I don't let my girls sit around in a state of "undress" (because seriously, would you want to?) and I always treat them gently. I've even been know, on the rare occasion when one gets knock over, to pick them up with, "I'm so sorry........". And as Alison mentioned, I am fairly fanatical about my girls' hair, just as I am about my own. Whenever I do decide to sell or give one of my dolls away, I just look at it as handing them off to someone who will love them as much as I have.

If anyone is interested, here is a list of some of Rumer Godden's books: The Doll's House, Impunity Jane (this is a great one about a boy who finds a doll that he plays with and learns to love, but hides in his pocket so no one knows), The Fairy Doll, Candy Floss, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, Little Plum and (my all time favorite) The Story of Holly and Ivy. Again, most of these are out of print, but can be found on Amazon and other online sources.


  1. Wow, I opened a can of worms with that Toy Story 3 review, didn't I? I wonder what the folks at Pixar would make of their movie provoking such a conversation?

  2. Very interesting, Carolyn. I guess I am also quite guilty of talking to my dolls. ;) I'm reminded of the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, actually--one of my favorites as a child, as sad as the story was. Thanks for all the book recommendations--they look really fun!

  3. Thanks for the recs^_^ I'd like to try some of these books.



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