Project Description


The Wheat Doll

by Alison L. Randall
illustrated by Bill Farnsworth

Mary Ann lives with her family in the rugged Utah territory. Mary Ann has a busy life, and a special friend to share it with: her beloved homemade doll, Betty.

Betty’s wheat-filled body sits straight and tall. Her embroidered eyes never blink. Still, Mary Ann knows that Betty is always paying attention. But one afternoon, a sudden, fierce storm forces Mary Ann and her family into their cabin before the young girl can retrieve her doll from the garden. By the time the wild wind and rain subside, Betty is gone. Mary Ann is heartbroken, but one day when winter turns to spring, Mary Ann spies a familiar shape growing into a patch of slender grass near the bottom of a hill.

Author Alison L. Randall’s moving tale of steadfast love and hope is complemented by Bill Farnsworth’s evocative illustrations. An afterword provides more information about 19th century rural life and the real-life inspiration for Mary Ann.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $16.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-456-3
Publication Date: 9/1/2008
Page Count: 32
Size: 9-3/4 ̎ x 11 ̎
Age Range: 4 – 8
Language: English
AR Level: 3.9
F&P: O, Gr 3, Genre HF
Lexile: AD680L
Themes: Frontier Life, Loss, Resourcefulness, Toys
BISAC 1: JUV016140 JUVENILE FICTION / Historical/United States/19th Century
BISAC 2: JUV040000 JUVENILE FICTION / Toys/Dolls/Puppets
BISAC 3: JUV039060 JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues/Friendship


“A sweet story of loss and renewal told with empathy and feeling that is never heavy-handed.… Farnsworth’s realistic oil paintings have a warm, soft quality that matches the tone of the text.…a great addition to all collections…” ―School Library Journal

“This story should resonate with 21st century children who have grown deeply attached to a doll or stuffed animal. Farnsworth’s oil paintings and the overall book design possess an unhurried, old-fashioned quality; and the compliment Randall’s simple, heartfelt story.” ―Booklist

“Farnsworth’s vivid oil paintings marvelously depict the realities of frontier life and capture the intense emotions of the story.” ―The Bloomsbury Review

“This tender tale and the accompanying oil paintings capture frontier life and the timeless bond between kids and their playthings.” ―Washington Parent


Storytelling World Resource Awards (Honor, Stories for Young Listeners) ―Storytelling World Magazine, 2010

Goldfinch Award (Nominee) ―Iowa Association of School Librarians

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Meet the Author

Alison L. Randall lives in Utah with her husband, three children, and a cat named Indy. The Wheat Doll is her first picture book. You can visit her website here.

Meet the Illustrator

Bill Farnsworth has illustrated more than 40 award-winning books for young readers, including The Wheat Doll. He has spent much of his professional life painting landscapes, and his art has appeared in many national shows and private collections throughout the United States. He lives in Florida. You can visit his website here.