Sylvia Waugh is a British writer of children’s books who has a lot in common with me. She spent her career as a teacher of grammar. In her late fifties she became a published author. Her book series of the Mennyma is a charming fantasy adventure about dolls so loved by their owner, they actually come to life… and survive her…. and then have to make their way in a world that would be horrified by them and might easily seek to destroy them.
But rest assured, the dolls in this sweet-natured children’s book series would never prove evil. The books are more fantasy-comedy than horror story. In fact, they are impossibly far away from horror.
Joshua Mennym is the head of a family of life-size rag dolls. He pretends to be a middle-aged man. He generally keeps his distance from the general public, because, up close, his basic rag-doll-ness would stand revealed. Rag dolls are not supposed to walk and talk, let alone have families and live in a home of their own. His wife is Vinetta Mennym, also a rag doll. Together they are parents to the ten-year old twins, Poopie, the boy, and Wimpey, the girl.
The teenage twins are Pilbeam and Soobie. Pilbeam is the girl and constant companion of the elder teenage sister, Appleby. Soobie is the boy and blue. Why their former owner, Kate Penshaw, made him with a blue head and blue feet and blue hands is a mystery both to the Mennyyms and to me. It causes him to be the one most likely to cause exposure of the family secret because even at a distance he does not look like a “real people” person.
Baby Googles is the smallest of the family, constantly cared for by the nanny, Miss Quigley, who is also considered a Mennym because she is also a doll.
Grandpa Magnus Mennym lives in the attic with Grandma and takes care of the household bills. He writes scholarly works on the English Civil War and publishes them for a modest income which comes through the mail. Granny Tulip is also relied upon for her wisdom and experience whenever a problem with keeping the family secret comes up.
Each book in the series contains a different adventure revolving around the realistic comedy generated by impossible people trying so hard to be real. I absolutely love the adventures, even the ones I haven’t read yet. And I know that the only way you could possibly love these books too is if you share my loony love of the fantastically impossible that turns out to be real. After reading these books, I fully intend to keep a very close eye on my own doll collection.