I've always liked the idea of old-fashioned paper dolls. There's something about their simplicity that's very appealing, and it's a good reminder of how few material items children really need to stimulate imagination and play.
The first time I ever read about paper dolls was in All-of-a-Kind Family, when the girls' Papa, who is a peddler on the lower east side of New York in the early 1900s, receives an unexpected load of books. He allows his daughters to pick out whatever they'd like, and they are delighted to find a storybook that was illustrated with paper dolls and outfits to cut out.
It was wonderful! Enchanting! It seemed like a bit of Fairyland come to life. They might have dreamed about such a book but they had not known that one like it even existed.
This is just how I felt when I came across Lily and Thistle MiniMe paper doll boutique recently. Hannah Stevenson customizes each doll she creates with skin tone, hairstyle, eye color, freckles, glasses, etc. so each girl resembles your little girl--or, well, you. The illustrations themselves are utterly charming, but what made me go absolutely crazy over them were the two special clothing lines she had created: a girls in literature outfit line and a fairy tale outfit line. I had to order a set immediately.
When I received the dolls themselves just one short week after an email consultation with Hannah, I was beside myself with excitement. The doll is incredibly sweet, with lovely watercolor-y shading and beautifully shaped features. I also like that she looks like a real girl, not like a flat stick figure or an exaggerated or unrealistic depiction of what a girl should look like. The six modern-day outfits she comes with are fun, ranging from sun dresses to shorts and leggings, but what I was obviously rapturous over were the two storybook lines.
I can't even begin to describe how beautiful the clothing is. The dress patterns are minutely detailed, with warm, vibrant colors that somehow look subtly textured. I love the tiny birds and roses in Gretel's skirt, the soft cottony bloom in the Princess and the Pea's nightdress, the scarlet of Red Riding Hood's flowing cloak, the relaxed wool sweater worn by Lucy Pevensie, and the iridescent seashell colors in the Little Mermaid's tail. Each outfit transforms the doll completely--somehow she has a more upright carriage when she wears Velvet's riding habit and boots, or looks more demure in Cinderella's elegant ballgown, or is ready to take flight with Tinkerbell's wings.
I can't say enough about how incredibly lovely this whole collection is--and how reasonably priced they are. You may buy a doll (and outfits) printed on high quality cream-colored card stock, and presented in packaging suitable for gift-giving--which also comes with a cd with the images so you can reprint them if you need to! How amazing is that? Hannah also offers printable download option if you'd like to print them up yourself. The dolls come with a sticky strip, but I decided to laminate my dolls and find magnetic strips for them so they'd last a little bit longer.
If there is an imaginative girl in your life, I can't imagine she won't enjoy these lovely playthings. This is truly the most beautiful collection of paper dolls I've ever seen, and these charming, timeless girls are ones I know I'll treasure for a lifetime.
If you'd like to learn more about paper dolls, you may read more about their long history here. Hannah also has a wonderful blog which offers tutorials, free downloadable outfits, and more.