The Raggedy Ann Stories is by far, the longest chapter book we have read. Though it is perfect as a read aloud for us, it is not for an early reader to read independently. The great thing is that there is at least one illustration in each two page spread...with lots of text. I should clarify that each chapter is a stand-alone story, so it is not a true chapter book.
Raggedy Ann lives in the nursery with many other dolls and a dog named Fido. Her mistress is Marcella, a kind and loving girl. (Raggedy actually belonged to Marcella's grandma before Marcella found her in the attic after fifty years! That was its own chapter.) Marcella loves her dolls dearly, and even changes them into night clothes before tucking them in at night. Raggedy Ann is clearly a leader in the nursery and everyone loves her dearly. She is giving and selfless...and a perfect friend. She repeatedly tells her friends that she is stuffed with "nice soft cotton" so it doesn't hurt her like it might others to sleep on the floor or fall from a fence post.
Raggedy Ann and the other dolls have fun with Marcella, like when Raggedy flies as a kite! However, the dolls seem to find the most adventure on their own. In several stories, they climb out the nursery window! Somehow it doesn't seem naughty though. Imagine that! Even when the dolls have a feast of cornbread, molasses, and jam and make a mess of themselves, Marcella is happy to clean them up and hang them from the clothes line. (She does say, "Shame on you!" though.)
I actually had a little struggle with The Raggedy Ann Stories. The illustrations show Raggedy with brownish yarn hair. The text never mentions the color of her hair, though Raggedy often runs her hand through it. We all know that the Raggedy Ann dolls are known for their red hair. I'm sure red heads, especially in the early 1900's needed all the support they could get! I'm glad red-haired girls could relate to Anne and Raggedy Ann! I think the Raggedy Ann dolls are adorable with red hair, especially since the red yarn hair distinguishes her from other rag dolls, though it deviates from the original illustrations. That's okay. These dolls may have a triangle nose and a painted smile, but I don't think they have shoe button eyes. I will just accept that these dolls are inspired by a great children's book and let it be.
M and I loved this book. At the end of a chapter, I would tell her the title of the next chapter. At the next nap or bed time, she would remember the name of the chapter! I can't wait to get another Raggedy Ann book from the library-and introduce her to Raggedy Andy! If our love of these books continues, I think she might like to have a Raggedy Ann doll of her own. How fun!