Doll Bones

Doll Bones

eBook - 2013
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Zach, Alice, and Poppy, friends from a Pennsylvania middle school who have long enjoyed acting out imaginary adventures with dolls and action figures, embark on a real-life quest to Ohio to bury a doll made from the ashes of a dead girl.
Publisher: New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books, c2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781442474871
Branch Call Number: PZ7.B52878 Dol 2013x
Characteristics: 1 downloadable text file


From Library Staff

Zach, Alice, and Poppy, a trio of best friends from Pennsylvania, embark on a bus trip to bury the Queen, a bone china doll that Poppy swears was made from the ashes of a murdered girl. As unexplained events occur during their journey, the creepy antique doll becomes even scarier, and Poppy's cla... Read More »

Zach, Alice, and Poppy, a trio of best friends from Pennsylvania, embark on a bus trip to bury the Queen, a bone china doll that Poppy swears was made from the ashes of a murdered girl. As unexplained events occur during their journey, the creepy antique doll becomes even scarier, and Poppy's cla... Read More »

From the critics

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Feb 16, 2018

A coming-of-age, adventure, ghost story. Lots of fun.

May 20, 2017

This book is very interesting as the story goes on. I think this book will be good for kids going on to more intense mystery books or young adult.

Feb 07, 2017

Doll Bones by Holly Black is a nail-biting and heart racing tale of three friends who face what all children eventually do: growing up. Alice, Zach, and Poppy have been playing the same game for as long as they can remember. Filled with adventures and quests, their toys and action figures all worship the ominous Great Queen – a bone china doll stored in a cabinet in Poppy’s house. When Zach’s father decides that dolls are no longer appropriate for his son, he throws them away, leaving Zach confused, lost, and angry at his friends who still have their toys. But when Poppy suddenly has dreams sent from the Great Queen, she convinces Alice and Zach to join in on one last quest – to bury the bone china doll in the grave that she never knew.

Doll Bones is filled with the creeps and the crawlies, weaving around the age-old tale of growing-up with a darker ghost story, children who like scary stories will develop their taste for thrillers, mysteries and horror.

KC Rating: 5/5
Reading from an adult perspective, all middle school books seem to go by fast. However, taking into account the speed with which the days and scenes pass by, and the secrets and mysteries unfold, this book is relatively fast-paced, with a compelling plot-line that builds the further you read and wraps up with a quick and neat conclusion.

Zach, Poppy and Alice all look and act different. Their diverse backgrounds and family histories are woven into the novel so finely that a reader barely notices the added information, yet it fills the character’s stories with life and colour. With controlling grandmothers, estranged fathers, and absent, workaholic parents, the children’s personalities change shape as they journey through their quest and learn who they really are. The amount of character development in a book for middle school readers is very appropriate to the skill level, allowing room for the readers to continue on into more complex and mysterious plot lines in the future.

Black’s signature dark and creepy undertone is evident in Doll Bones, yet it is scaled down to the appropriate age. The prose is easy and conversational, and children and parents alike will follow this familiar story of growing up, friendship, and believing in the unseen.

AL_LESLEY Nov 17, 2016

A cute adventure story for the kid bridging junior and YA.

PimaLib_SierraG May 24, 2016

Great story for you to share with your kids and equally pleasant to sneak away with after the kids have gone to bed. Story revolves around Zach, Alice and Poppy going on a risky adventure to lay to rest the spirit of an ivory doll they call the "Queen" who Poppy is convinced is made of human-bone china. The narration leaves it up to the reader on whether they want to believe Poppy's story that the Queen truly is possessed. Great lessons about being yourself despite peer pressure. Recommend for all ages.

Dec 13, 2015

I read this book because it was on my niece's summer reading list. She of course didn't finish reading it, but I did and found it imaginative, and motivating with some life lessons mixed in. I wish she had really read it because it would have spurred some good discussions between us.

vpl_childrens Dec 08, 2015

Interest level: ages 10-14. This psychologically thrilling tale starts when Zach gives up his childhood past time of playing with dolls and action figures with his friends Poppy and Alice. But when Poppy convinces them to go on one last road trip to bring peace to the ghost possessing the ivory doll they call the Queen, unexpected and mysterious events happen along the way.

zanyblueyak Sep 15, 2015

Well written ghost and friendship story with elements of a quest. I see why was it was a Newbery honor book. Worth reading.

Jul 21, 2015

i dont know how but why is this book scary? i think it was just mildly goosebumpish.

Mar 15, 2015

Creepy! And fun! Everyone who I told even a snippet of the story to had to go out and borrow it right away. It's got great hooks!

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Add Age Suitability

PimaLib_SierraG May 24, 2016

PimaLib_SierraG thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Aug 08, 2014

ririshres2 thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

Red_Cobra_111 Jul 03, 2014

Red_Cobra_111 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Violet_Jellyfish_30 Jun 19, 2014

Violet_Jellyfish_30 thinks this title is suitable for 7 years and over

Feb 09, 2014

blue_bird_1230 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Sep 27, 2013

Orange_Fox_1 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over


ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12


Add a Quote

blue_jellyfish_93 Jul 15, 2014

''Everything froze for a long moment. The Queen hit the waves with barely a splash, the water seemed to soak her dress in slow motion, drawing it down''.

blue_jellyfish_93 Jul 15, 2014

''Zach didn't think about it. He dove''.

JCLChrisK Jan 07, 2014

But Zach wanted [ghosts] to be real, wanted that desperately.

If they were real, then maybe the world was big enough to have magic in it. And if there was magic--even bad magic, and Zach knew it was more likely that there was bad magic than any good kind--then maybe not everyone had to have a story like his father's, a story like the kind all the adults he knew told, one about giving up and growing bitter. He might have been embarrassed to wish for magic back home, but there in the woods, it seemed possible. He looked over at the cruel, glassy eyes of the doll, so close that she could have touched his face.

Anything was better than no magic at all.


“He wondered whether growing up was learning that most stories turned out to be lies.”


“I hate that you’re going to leave me behind. I hate that everyone calls it growing up, but it seems like dying. It feels like each of you is being possessed and I’m next.”


“Before Lady Jaye, Alice’s favorite character had been a Barbie named Aurora who had been raised by a herd of carnivorous horses.”


Add a Summary

blue_jellyfish_93 Jul 15, 2014

Creepy dolls? A wild adventure? A broken friendship? Try out this book! Doll Bones is a real chiller! Three kids on a mission to fix their friendship and a crime that happened years ago.
A haunted tale about Zach, Poppy, and Alice in a tree full of twisted branches. How will these kids reach their destination?
On a bus with alien-faced bus drivers? By hijacking a boat and almost drowning all that they came for? Breaking into a library for a map?
This book has it all!


By and large middle schoolers do not play with dolls. But Zach, Poppy and Alice have been playing “the game” for years and it’s only gotten better with time. Using dolls of every type they spin wild tales and live out personalities different from their own. That is, until Zach’s dad throws out his toys in an effort to stop the game. Ashamed, Zach lies to his friends that he no longer wants to play. This act leads to unforeseen consequences when, in desperation, Poppy releases a bone china doll from her mother’s cabinet, only to find herself haunted by the ghost of a long dead girl. Inside the doll are ashes and if any of the three is to get any peace they will have to bury the doll in a specific grave. If they succeed they’ll have fulfilled their quest. If they fail? They may suffer worse than a ghost’s wrath. They might be . . . ordinary.


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