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Books set in the past
Books set in the past



The Dollmaker of Krakow,
Josie, 10.

This book is about:
War, magic, friendship, sadness and hope.

I would rate this fabulous book 10/10!!!! An emotional story of magic, friendship and hope, yet also the shocking reality of life in 1939 Poland. It is a lovely read for 10+. A unique combination of fantasy and history - with a tragic ending which reflects how many stories ended during World War II. I would definitely recommend it!!!

When war breaks out in the land of dolls, Karolina is spirited away to the human world, in the run up to World War II and the Holocaust. Finding refuge with the kind hearted dollmaker, she helps to fight injustices against the Jewish community of Krakow.

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Clare Wilkins, 9
Set in Poland in 1939 as the evil of the Nazi occupation becomes a daily reality for the divided citizens of Krakow, this is the spellbinding tale of the doll, Karolina, and the toymaker who brings her to life.

Karolina has been carried by the good wind from the rat-occupied Land of the Dolls. Leaving behind her war-ravaged homeland, Karolina befriends the Toymaker and his Jewish clients, the Trzmiels. But life soon changes and the Trzmiels are dragged from their home to another part of the city and forced into labour. With the use of a doll's house and no small amount of magic. Karolina and the toymaker hatch an audacious plan to free their friends. When fellow magician and Nazi officer, Brandt, becomes aware of their plans and unwittingly reveals his links to Karolina's homeland, the friends realise they are in a desperate battle for survival.

This is a stunning book. The beginning has a fairytale feel and the illustrations match this but as the story unravels, the true evil of the Nazi regime emerges. The Toymaker and Karolina are perfect as two lost souls who find a home together and the mirror storylines of the Land of the Dolls and occupied Krakow are brilliantly-spun together. However, a warning for more sensitive readers - this book contains strong themes and some harrowing scenes, particularly towards the end. My overall impression remains, though, that is an important story re-told in an entirely original and quietly compelling way.

281 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.
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