Puddle’s Wonderous Worry Dolls ★☆☆☆☆

puddles wonderous worry dollsI’ve been meaning to read more easy readers and middle grade, but I was thoroughly unimpressed with this one. Puddle’s Wonderous Worry Dolls reads like an easy reader but it tried desperately to enter into the heftier realm of middle grade.

Jemima- Puddle to her friends- helps out in her Mum’s shop and discovers Worry Dolls, pretty paper dolls in bright cotton pouches.

Puddle has never heard of Worry Dolls and her Mum explains that they make your worries fly away.  While they are talking, a box of Worry Dolls spookily falls off the table and Puddle scrabbles around picking them all up – when Puddle gets home she finds that one of those bags had fallen into her pocket. But these Worry Dolls are nothing like the shop ones –these are very very different – cool funky Worry dolls in a rainbow pouch. Puddle is pretty puzzled, did her Mum slip them into her pocket? But she gives them a worry to solve just for fun –  what happens next makes Puddle even more puzzled.

Puddle and her best friend Ally have plenty of problems at school -with three bullies who make everyone’s life a misery. Like all bullies they pick on the younger kids who can’t stand up for themselves. Their unkind names are a pain, but one day they go too far, so Puddle and Ally decide that it is time to teach them a lesson – together with her wondrous new friends – those Funky Worry Dolls, Puddle and Ally come up with some wonderful, but naughty, ideas.

Not only the school bullies get a taste of their own medicine – other crazy things happen,

Puddle and Ally save some bedraggled kittens. Puddle succeeds in a maths test, now that is a miracle! Puddle’s project group is a big success-

Those Worry Dolls are cool but a bit creepy!

Puddle has a bunch of problems going on in her life, she’s bad at math, there are bullies at school, she lost her grandmother’s bracelet, and someone left a sack full kittens in the river. Every day something else awful happens and every night she talks to her worry doll that she’s tucked beneath her pillow.

Aside from the constant shifting in tenses and forced, often perfunctory, dialogue, Puddle’s Wonderous Worry Dolls tried to tackle too many plot lines. Each problem goes one of two ways, either it is solved for them or they go about a deplorable way to solve it.

The first problem was the loss of her grandmother’s bracelet. We can safely assume the worry doll made it appear in Ally’s beat up couch. Notice how Puddle didn’t go looking for it.

The second problem was the bullies, aka the scaries (a relatively uncreative name for bullies that has been used time and time again). After watching the scaries bully an overweight girl in the locker room Puddle and Ally set up a system of pranks in the classroom so that they can steal the bullies’ phones and send mean text messages. Of course, the scaries break off their friendship. I was disappointed that distracting the classroom and stealing were the first ideas that popped into Puddle and Ally’s heads.

The third problem was the Math test (Maths test in the text because we’re not in the US). Puddle is terrible at Math and she worries that her classmates will make fun of her. With Ally’s help she passes the test. But I would rather have seen Puddle hit the books and work out her own problems.

Then there are the kittens. The sack of kittens they find by the river, who are malnourished and half drowned. One, in fact, did not make it and the girls calmly bury the small thing.

Puddle’s Wonderous Worry Dolls was trying to be much more mature than it needed to be and was more easy reader than middle grade novel. It was a cute premise but ultimately too much is solved from outside forces.

By J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.

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