Kafka and the Doll by Larissa Theule, illustrated by Rebecca Green
Published on January 19, 2022
Reviewed by Elizabeth DeVincenzo
This delightful historical fiction picture book introduces young children to author, Franz Kafka, by exploring a lesser known event in his life that occurred in 1923. Living in Berlin at the time, Kafka was in ill health and had little money. One day he was visiting a park and he encountered a little girl who was crying because she lost her doll. Trying to comfort the girl, he told her that her doll was not lost, only traveling. For three weeks, he wrote letters to the girl written by her doll, Soupsy describing all her adventures around the world. Years later after, his death, Dora, his partner, relayed these events to his biographer. The little girl’s identity is unknown to this day and the letters are lost. Any child who has lost a favorite doll or toy can relate to Irma, the little girl in the story and perhaps feel comforted knowing her doll is safe and not lost at all. Reading this book, may encourage children to use their own imaginations to tell and write stories. Ultimately, this is a story about kindness and compassion. I highly recommend this book for parents to share with their children. Teachers in the lower elementary grades will find this book useful when teaching character education units on kindness and compassion. Adults who are fans of Kafka will be interested to learn of this relatively obscure event of his life. An author’s note, brief biography of Kafka, and bibliography are included for further reading.
Target audience: Children Ages 4-8
Recommended by Booklist Magazine as one of the best historical fiction books for children in 2021