Madame Alexander: The Creator of the Iconic American Doll

Feiwel & Friends. Oct. 2022. 48p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250138590.
PreS-Gr 3–This delicately illustrated picture book biography describes in simple prose the upbringing and rise to success of the founder of the Alexander Doll Company, known to many as she was dubbed by a reporter, Madame Alexander. Alexander’s parents were immigrants living in New York City, where her father ran a doll repair shop under the family apartment. The eldest of four daughters, Beatrice entered the family business at a young age, helping to repair fragile porcelain dolls that had been imported from Europe. During World War I, she began to design her own dolls to bring in business. Her first doll sold so well that she continued to create new prototypes, eventually leading to an order for dolls from the New York City toy store FAO Schwarz. With this success, she had the resources she needed to work with her own team of employees to create new kinds of dolls and clothing, have a doll hospital like her father’s for mending the toys, and eventually have her own production facility. End notes share the company’s history and give more information about Alexander’s family and philanthropic activities, along with a bibliography for further reading. This is a gentle read, lacking in tension, and filled with an entrepreneurial spirit. Dvojak’s hand-drawn and digitally colored illustrations feature realistically positioned, fluid depictions of the key players in this biography in calming shades of cream, brown, and blue—like snapshots of the era, one can almost imagine the characters captured in the middle of movement.
VERDICT Recommended for early nonfiction collections.

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