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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Read Aloud: Raggedy Ann

[Cover] My four year old daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Raggedy Ann Stories!  Raggedy Ann books, written and illustrated by Johnny Gruelle, were first introduced to the public in 1918, and Raggedy Andy just two years later.  I love the idea of reading a book that our grandparents may have enjoyed as children.  The adventures in The Raggedy Ann Stories are inspired by the author's daughter (who died at age 13) and her own rag doll named Raggedy Ann.  The Raggedy Ann Stories contains the best original stories and artwork by Gruelle, but this is not the very first book when Raggedy was introduced to the public.  That book is called Raggedy Ann Stories (missing the article "the" in the original book). 

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.)
Russ Berrie 16" Button Eye Raggedy Ann
12" Raggedy Ann 95th Anniversary Edition DollI 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!


Dorie said...

It sounds like a great read aloud! I never knew the history of the books and dolls thank you for sharing.

Christy Killoran said...

We have never read any of the Raggedy Ann stories. I'll have to look for this. Interesting and surprising about the hair in the illustrations.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Sounds great, Annette! We've never read any of the Raggedy Ann stories, at least that I remember. Thanks so much for linking up to RAT!

Jenny said...

Aww, I love Raggedy Ann. (I dressed up like her my senior year of highschool for Halloween, btw.) Sis likes the stories, and I've even tried to entice her to have a Raggedy Ann birthday party. The problem is, Raggedy Ann doesn't have PINK or PURPLE hair, I'm sure.

Judy Whatilivefor said...

You know something's quality when it's lasted so long, and has been loved for so long. I will have to look for some Raggedy Ann books at the library for my kiddos!

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Oh, I didn't know that there are books about Raggedy Ann! Thanks for this post and joining WMCIR!

Nicole {tired, need sleep} said...

Annette, I adore the Raggedy Ann stories! I honestly didn't know there were chapter books about her though. Matthew and I have checked out some (pretty long) picture books about Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, and he loved them! Is Andy in the chapter books too? I definitely have to look into them. Thank you for sharing!

LaDonna said...

Thank you so much for posting this. This is perfect for our next read aloud.

Jamie @ hands on : as we grow said...

I have a special place in my heart for Raggedy Ann and Andy - my mother in law made the dolls for every new baby in the family (for her own kids, neieces and nephews, and now their kids...) - she passed away this past summer and this touched me.

I decided to feature this post on this week's High Five! - Be sure to check it out!

Jamie @ hands on : as we grow

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