July 28, 2011

Racketty-Packetty House

Are you wondering why Frances Hodgson Burnett’s name sounds familiar? She wrote ‘The Secret Garden’, ‘A Little Princess’ (Quite possibly one of my favorite children’s books of all time.) and ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’. She’s AMAZING.

(Note: If you ever get new copies of the ‘The Secret Garden’ or ‘A Little Princess’ – you must find the versions that are illustrated by Tasha Tudor. They are enchanting and well . . . you just have to get those versions because otherwise I’ll be sad.)

I think ‘Racketty-Packetty House’ is less known than Burnett’s other more famous works, which is such a shame. The story is geared for children 7+ and is shorter in length than her novels. This version, illustrated by Holly Johnson, is the one I was given as a seventh birthday present from my grandparents. It’s out of print but available used. There are new versions available by another illustrator but I haven’t seen the art, so I have no idea if the new art is as gorgeous as it is in the copy that I have.

(The dolls. Their names are: Charlotte, Victoria Leopoldina, Aurelia Matilda, Leontine, Clotilda, Augustus, Rowland, Vincent and Charles Edward Stuart. Those are the shabby ones! The really fancy pants dollies have names like Lady Muriel Vere de Vere.)

The story is about a posh dollhouse with fancy dolls who are disagreeable and a shabby dollhouse with sweet-natured dolls that once were fine but have fallen into serious dilapidation. Naturally, one of the fancy dolls falls in love with one of the shabby dolls. It’s West Side Story in a dollhouse setting!

At the end, the dolls from both houses learn to get along and Charles Edward Stuart marries Lady Patsy and the Queen of the Fairies herself appears at their wedding. And the shabby dolls are then adopted by a real princess of England since the girl who owned them wasn’t kind and was about to put the dolls into the trash.

Let me tell you, when one is seven years old, this stuff has you at the edge of your seat.

A magical and delightfully fun story by a Children’s Literature giant – you really should seek it out for the doll loving child in your life; it’s a such special book! Books like this just aren’t made anymore.


  1. What a cute book! I need to find this. :)

  2. Yes! Yes you do! :) You will looooove it..... ~Melissa

  3. The new illustrations are nice, but someday I'd like to get the version you have.