And Then I Read: MENNYMS IN THE WILDERNESS

© Sylvia Waugh, illustration not credited.

When I read and reviewed the first book in this series, “The Mennyms,” I had to grudgingly admit I enjoyed reading it, though I found the concept off-putting: a family of life-size rag dolls that have come to life inexplicably, and are just managing to keep their true nature a secret from the humans living all around their own house. I’m not fond of dolls, and life-size ones seem even creepier than regular ones. Plus I felt cheated by the fact that nothing on the cover or flaps of the book indicated what these characters really were.

I bought this second Mennyms book at the same time as the first one. At least this time I knew what I was in for, and I found that I enjoyed this book even more than the first. The characters all come to life in the writing, full of quirks and personality, and after a while their doll-ness seems much less important. In this story, they have to take a real person into their confidence, the nephew of their deceased creator, because they need help. It seems a new highway is planned to go right through their neighborhood, and it looks like the Mennyms will have to move.

Albert, the human, has been alerted to the weird world he’s about to enter by the ghost of his Aunt, but nothing can really prepare him for it, and at first he’s in a kind of shock, but like me, after a while he gets used to the dolls and begins treating them very much like people. Albert and the Mennyms make plans, and Albert takes them off to a large but decaying family estate he owns, where they try very hard to start a new life. Things don’t go very well, though, and soon everyone is struggling to keep their spirits up. More trouble emerges when some local kids happen onto their secret.

While I would never have begun this series if I’d known its true nature (and still feel a bit cheated by misleading covers; the front of this one is just as bad, though it does at least call them dolls on the back cover), I now have to admire author Sylvia Waugh for making me care about her creations.

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