Book Review: Patti Cake and Her New Doll

Cover Illustration for Patti Cake and Her New Doll

Cover Illustration for Patti Cake and Her New Doll

How could I resist? We are the Pattycake Doll Company after all.

Written by Newberry award winning author Patricia Reilly Giff and illustrated by Laura J Bryant, Patti Cake and Her New Doll is a picture book for younger toddlers.

I am a bit conflicted about whether I like this book enough to recommend it as highly as some of the other classic doll stories, but would tend to say ‘Yes, get it,’ because of the illustrations.

I think doll books should be about dolls, and their importance to the child. Patti Cake could just have easily been written with a new dress substituted for the doll, or a new bed spread. All the incidents that drive the plot could easily have been worked around a different object. It didn’t have to be a doll.

Also, when my children were little there were books that once read had to be read again and again. Or if there was no one available to read to them, they would turn the pages over themselves and enjoy the book just by it’s pictures.

I don’t think my children would have loved this book like that. Hence my conflicted feelings about this new book.

Doll Play as Role Play


One of the best things about playing with dolls is that they help children grow to be better people. There are no negatives… just positives.

There is a lot that has been written about the importance of doll play, and I’m a simple doll store owner and not a psychologist, so in today’s post I’d like to just point our some of the best bullet points:

  • Doll Play is ‘unstructured’ play. In a world that is increasingly structured and scheduled, (increasingly meaning that recess and ‘gym’ are being cut further and further in America’s Schools,) doll play is unstructured and open ended.
  • Doll play is imaginative and free form – there are no scripts to follow, or ‘rules to the game’ in doll play.
  • Doll play helps teach nurturing… to take care of something smaller than yourself.
  • And doll play is an opportunity to role play, which greatly boosts children’s imaginations.

Most children’s role playing with dolls is as a parent, which is why the majority of children’s dolls sold are baby dolls. But there are many other personas that children take on while playing with dolls… Doctor or Nurse, Teacher, Boss and Hostess (not the political) Tea Party, Story Teller and many others.

It’s nice that people often think of dolls as a great gift, it helps keep me in business. But I think it’s also important to remind people why doll’s make such great gifts… it’s because they help kids become great people!


Soft Bodied Dolls – Happy Hybrid?

Dolls today come in three basic styles:

‘All Cloth Dolls’ – also known as Rag Dolls,

Classic Raggedy Ann Doll

All ‘Vinyl Dolls’ – often called plastic dolls,

antomically correct Asian Boy doll

and hybrids or ‘Soft Body’ dolls.

Soft Body dolls

a 12″ and an 18″ doll. Both are ‘soft body’ dolls

Why should you care? Because the three different types of dolls offer three different kinds of ‘play,’ and all three are important to a child’s development.

Broadly speaking, rag doll’s are more cuddle and security objects, all plastic dolls can be dressed and undressed (learn to dress, nurturing and fashion), and go into the bath, and cloth / plastic hybrids offer a combination of both features… they are soft and cuddly like the rag dolls, but are easily dressed and undressed because of the flexibility of their limbs for shoving arms and legs into the clothing.

PS: A new and very positive trend we’re seeing now is the cloth body ‘bath’ doll… has all the advantages of a hybrid, but made with a cloth body specifically designed to dry quickly. Corolle’s Tidoo and Adora’s BathTime babies are two examples of these new ‘Hybrid – Hybrids!”

Why do you do what you do?

I was asked to answer this question recently in a survey for small toy store owners.

Why do you do what you do?

I knew how I had gotten into my online doll store, ( our adoption stationery business added a few dolls for adopted kids)  but I had to think for a while about why I had stayed in the doll business, especially as, in the beginning, it wasn’t making me a whole lot of money.

And there were certain points after that rough beginning, where I could have / should have shut it down… but didn’t. And that’s where I started my self-discovery journey. If I could have ‘escaped’ from this little profit – lots of hours business, why didn’t I?

It took some soul-searching, but I finally realized why I loved this business so much.

It was the kids.

My job brings a lot of happiness to a lot of kids. Kids all over the world receive our dolls as gifts, and I know that when you give a kid a new doll, they get happy.

So I’m making a living making kids happy.

And that’s a good enough reason for me.