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'The Letter'

August 21, 2011|By Linda Ruddy
  • "The Letter"
"The Letter" (Linda Ruddy )

Jenny doesn't like dolls. In fact, for the past two years she has hated dolls. Ever since her brother shattered her favorite one, something in Jenny broke too.

Then one day, her mom led Jenny down the hall and into Nanna's old room. A large cardboard box sat on the bed. On its side, printed in large letters, was the word Dolls.

"Mom, I don't want to arrange Grandma's things," Jenny said, stomping her feet. "I want to play with my friends."

"Not today, Jennifer. I need your help," mom replied firmly, as she moved the carton onto the floor.

She lifted the lid revealing many smaller packages wrapped in tissue paper.

"I'm not sitting on the floor with you," Jenny snapped. She stood with her arms crossed and her lips closed in a tight pout. "Grandma would never let me touch anything in her house. Besides, her dolls scared me with their missing eyes and broken arms."

"Jenny, Grandma Nanna was a doll doctor. People would bring their broken treasures to Nanna's hospital."

"Then why couldn't Nanna fix my broken doll?" Jenny whispered.

"Listen, Jenny. Grandma tried gluing her head but it was in too many pieces," Mom said. "Now please help me."

Jenny moved around the room setting some dolls on the dresser and others on the floor. "A hospital for dolls. What kind of a job is that?" Jenny grumbled.

"Dolls have a life too," Mom said as she pointed. "Look, that is a storybook doll, and here's a Bye-Lo Baby. This one's made out of wood and there's an antique with a bisque head. Those costumed dolls taught me about the world. Oh, what colorful clothes!"

Jenny heard the excitement in her mother's voice. Her eyes moved around the room, stopping at each doll. She felt a curious sort of joy inside, like butterflies fluttering their wings.

"Jenny, look! Here's Grandma's old doll and tied to the tiny hand is an envelope with your name on it. Jenny looked inside and there was a letter and an old photograph. She began to read:

Dear Jennifer,

I have been busy making a new dress and hat for my beloved Bessie. She has been my friend since I was a girl. Now I want to give my favorite doll to you. I hope someday you will love her and enter the dolls' world of enchantment. Bessie will show you the way.

I will miss you my dear grand-daughter.

I love you.

Nanna

Jenny turned around so her mom couldn't see her tears. She looked at the photograph of a young girl holding a doll. It was Nanna. Jenny gently picked up Bessie and gave her a hug. The blue dress was made of soft fabric and the matching hat was trimmed with white lace. Tiny pearl buttons lined the boots.

"Mom, I think it's kind of neat that Grandma was a doll doctor."

"I think it's neat too," Mom said. "Grandma loved her Bessie. She collected, mended and repaired so many other dolls. Nanna started her doll fix-it shop when I was about the same age as you."

"Mom, did you enter the world of enchantment that Nanna wrote about?" Jenny asked.

"Yes, I did. For a while anyway," Mom said. "I had a special doll who danced at night while I slept. It was easy to go to the land of make-believe. But, then, one day I lost her and my magical world ended, lost all these years, until today."

Smiling, Jenny said, "Mom, you lost your doll just like I did. Maybe Grandma Nanna wanted us both to find that special place together."

Special thanks to the author for her illustration. To learn more about her, visit wingsofwonder.wordpress.com.

For more Kids' Reading Room, visit latimes.com/kids.

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