A playful yet profound take on the phrase “I contain multitudes”
A little girl admires her nana’s wooden nesting dolls that sit side by side on the windowsill. They all look exactly the same: pink cheeks, frilly aprons, and big smiles—except for the tiniest doll, which is small and unpainted and looks like a raw peanut. The girl thinks the matching smiles of all the other dolls don’t feel quite right. After all, she has many different faces and feelings inside of her, and the dolls should too!
Starting with the peanut, the girl draws new expressions on all the dolls’ faces, from toothy grins to grimaces. But when Nana sees what her granddaughter has done, she’s furious and says the dolls are ruined. The girl disagrees. “If those dolls were me,” she says, “no two would be alike.” When Nana considers what her granddaughter is telling her, she slowly begins to understand. With a hug, and a warning to ask before embarking on any more art projects, Nana proudly returns the dolls to their spot.
This bright, uplifting story about honoring and acknowledging emotions also touches on communication skills, creative self-expression, and conflict resolution. Written with humor and honesty, it reminds readers that, just like nesting dolls, there’s more to us than meets the eye.
About the authors
Laura Alary believes in writing stories that make us bigger on the inside. Born in Halifax, she earned her B.A. with Honours in classics at Dalhousie University before moving to her current home of Toronto, where she completed a Ph.D. at University of St. Michael’s College. Laura has worked as a lecturer, a library assistant, and a music specialist in Montessori classrooms, all the while writing books and raising her three children. Laura’s most recent title is What Grew in Larry’s Garden, which won the IODE Jean Throop Book Award in 2021.
Salini Perera is a freelance illustrator from Toronto. She was born in Sri Lanka, raised in Scarborough, and has been making art for as long as she can remember. Now, she gets to make art for picture books, a lifelong dream come true. She lives in the city's east end with her husband, Michael, and their two cats, Victoria and Albert.