Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Goldie the Dollmaker
A few years ago, my mom sent me her collection of M.B. Goffstein books: Brookie and Her Lamb, Two Piano Tuners, and Goldie the Dollmaker. The last one has always been a favorite.
Goldie is an orphan of indeterminate age. Her parents were dollmakers, and she has continued the business, only Goldie's dolls are much more in demand than her parents' creations ever were. Goldie carves each doll out of wood with movable joints, and then paints the doll with attention and care throughout the day:
Then she painted a little gleaming black eye on either side of the doll's nose and finally, holding it firmly arund the waist with one hand, Goldie smiled and smiled into the doll's eyes in the friendliest, sweetest way, and she painted a smile right back to herself on the little doll's face.
That smile was why shops could not keep Goldie Rosenweig's dolls in stock, and that smile was why there were more orders for her dolls than she could fill... Bcause the truth about that smile was that it was heartbreaking.
Goffstein's spare pen and ink drawings convey Goldie's loneliness as she longs to be friends with Omus the carpenter (who doesn't understand Goldie's connection to her dolls and her thirst for beauty), and her joy when she finds an exquisite lamp that far exceeds her income but which she can pay for in dolls. Omus' reaction to Goldie's purchase of the lamp unleashes Goldie's despair, but Goldie finds grace and new hope in the dream she has about the creator of the lamp.
While Goldie the Dollmaker is a children's book, the nuances of the story resonate with me far more as an adult than they ever did when I was younger. I would recommend this story (which is out of print, unfortunately) to anyone who has ever created something into which so much of the self has been invested, and been casually dismissed. I would also recommend it to the person who sees the beauty in simple things. However, I would not recommend it to someone thinks dolls are for sissies. That would be a fruitless endeavor.
You may find a complete bibliography of Goffstein's books here. At this time, it appears that they are all out of print. I wish you well in finding the books through your library systems. Don't forget about Interlibrary Loan, too!
P.S. I just found this photo of a Goldie the Dollmaker doll on a Japanese website called Rakuten: