Madame Alexander: The Creator of the Iconic American Doll

Image of Madame Alexander: The Creator of the Iconic American Doll
Release Date: 
October 18, 2022
Feiwel & Friends
Reviewed by: 

From the old-timey end papers (streets in New York) to the muted blue color of the book cover, the story of Madame Alexander: The Creator of the Iconic American Doll, is rooted in history.  Beatrice Alexander lived over a hundred years ago when a doll was almost every girl’s gift of choice, before electronic gadgets and cell phones.

Dolls went to doll hospitals when they needed to be repaired, and Beatrice’s dad owned one and worked there. Beatrice had an imagination, dreaming up a doll that couldn’t be broken like the bisque dolls of the time. “Someday, she thought, I will make dolls that don’t break so children will never be unhappy.”

Beatrice was good working with her hands. She was offered a chance to go to Paris at 16 on a sculpting scholarship. But she couldn’t go because the family had no money, and they needed her help at home. She got married at 18. Then she made Red Cross Nurse dolls out of cloth because there were no dolls to buy during the Great War (WWI).

Then she made rag dolls in olde-timey dresses, and they sold out. Then she had her own baby and copied her look into a baby doll.

FAO Schwarz toy store bought her dolls. A reporter interviewed her and gave her the name Madame Alexander. And the rest, they say, is history.

The illustrator used a warm palette of brown, rust, tan and red, and occasional muted blues, greens, and grays. A surprise of yellow happens here and there, saved for a pop of color. The story is set in the early 1900s, and the art matches the time period with women in long dresses, hats, and sensible shoes.

There is an info page about Madame Alexander in the back along with a bibliography. The book makes a nice edition to the books used for famous Americans reports done in grade schools. There’s always room for more females.

Madame Alexander belongs in very elementary library for the occasional girl who still loves a beautiful doll, no matter how many movies portray dolls as evil and scary—but not a Madame Alexander doll, they are too cute for that.