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Guest Blog from Zanna Davidson author of Sticker Dolly Stories

12th May 2020

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Usborne's Sticker Dolly Dressing books are one of the most popular series of kids' activity books. Children love dressing up the beautiful dolls in all kinds of outfits for every occasion, from weddings to sporting events, dream jobs to fairy gatherings. 

So we were very excited when we heard that a brand new series of stories inspired by the Sticker Dollies was coming this Summer! The new books are perfect for younger readers aged 5+ and include the essential sticker sheet to dress the characters, as well as fabulous black and white illustrations.

We asked author Zanna Davidson to tell us more about the series and the first book, Unicorn Rescue which is out now. Read on for her guest blog about creating the Sticker Dolly Stories.

Toppsta
2020-05-15
Guest Blog from Zanna Davidson author of Sticker Dolly Stories
Book pages Placeholder Book

Unicorn Rescue

Join the Magic Dolls for a Sticker Dollies Stories adventure... There's panic on the Enchanted Isle. A frightened unicorn is rampaging through the Spellwood, destroying everything in her path. It's time for the Magic Dolls, Grace, Lily and Holly, to race to the rescue!

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"About a year and a half ago, I got a call from Jenny Tyler, Usborne’s Publishing Director, asking me to go for coffee with her (in the days before lockdown, when we were able to do that sort of thing). She said she wanted to meet to discuss a new book series but that I had to keep it top secret.

It’s not often, in my job, that I’m asked to keep things ‘top secret’, so this felt quite exciting.

Over coffee, she asked me to write a new series of fiction books, based on the Sticker Dolly Dressing titles. They would need to have a similar feel to the sticker books, she said, and the same illustration style. She wanted the Doll characters to go on exciting adventures. She wanted me to create a whole new magical world

I went back to my desk and did some research. The Sticker Dolly Dressing books have sold 12.5 million copies worldwide. And now I needed to create a fiction series that did them justice. It was a slightly terrifying prospect.

Toppsta
2020-05-15
Guest Blog from Zanna Davidson author of Sticker Dolly Stories
Sticker Dolly Dressing: Unicorns

Over the next few weeks, we talked about how the stories would be a step up from the sticker books, but still needed to appeal to sticker dolly fans, so we decided to aim them at the 5+ age group. I wanted to make them accessible to younger children, who could have the stories read to them, as well as exciting chapter books for independent readers.

We put together a great team to work on the books, with the Art Director, Mary Cartwright, Hannah Cobley as designer, Stephanie King and Lesley Sims as editors, and a group of three fantastic illustrators, as well as Antonia Miller working on the covers and outfits.

Early on, we recognised the importance, and the fun, of the sticker element, so decided each book would get its own sheet of stickers, so readers could still ‘dress the dolls’, and that there should be pictures throughout. 


Toppsta
2020-05-15
Guest Blog from Zanna Davidson author of Sticker Dolly Stories
Sticker page

Then it was time to start thinking about characters. 

They needed to be active, aspirational, feisty and diverse (those were my buzzwords!), with something a little bit magical about them. We wanted them to go on missions to help others - all the time wearing really great outfits.

Toppsta
2020-05-15
Guest Blog from Zanna Davidson author of Sticker Dolly Stories
Meet the Magic Dolls spread

Then it was time to start planning their world. Like the Sticker Dolly books, it needed to be slick and sophisticated, but to have a cosy, approachable feel too. At first, to reflect the original Sticker Dolly series, we thought that each title could feature different Dolls. We got excited about the idea of the Pony Dolls, Wedding Dolls, Ballet Dolls, Magic Dolls, Animal Rescue Dolls, Princess Dolls…

But then we realised that in order to create characters for the readers to fall in love with, they were going to need to be able to spend more time with them. From that idea, the first four books emerged. They were all going to be about the Magic Dolls, which are then going to be followed by the Princess Dolls and the Animal Rescue Dolls.

For the whole of the Sticker Dolly world to work, we needed ALL of the books to link together, so we decided that all the Dolls would live together in Dolly Town.


Toppsta
2020-05-15
Guest Blog from Zanna Davidson author of Sticker Dolly Stories
Dolly Town map - spread

The map might look simple, but it involved many hours of planning. It has all the places the Dolls visit, as well as the homes of the characters that will feature in all the stories. One of the key locations is Madame Coco’s Costume Emporium, which in my mind is like a cross between Harrods and Galeries Lafayette


Toppsta
2020-05-15
Guest Blog from Zanna Davidson author of Sticker Dolly Stories
Inside Madame Coco's - spread

It’s run by the very stylish Madame Coco


Toppsta
2020-05-15
Guest Blog from Zanna Davidson author of Sticker Dolly Stories
Madame Coco herself - spread

and the Dolls go to her store for all their mission outfits and accessories. It’s made up of lots of floors, with different departments for different Dolls.

By now I had my first three Doll characters and I knew where they lived. But where would they GO on their missions? I thought about sending them out into the real world, but when I tried to do this it just felt wrong. So I sent them to the Enchanted Isle, a magical island where all their adventures take place, and which links the four Magic Dolls stories together.


Toppsta
2020-05-15
Guest Blog from Zanna Davidson author of Sticker Dolly Stories
The Enchanted Isle - spread

Once everything was planned out, it was time to get writing. And for these books to work, I knew they needed a lot of heart. I wanted the stories to be about the friendship between the three Dolls, and about teamwork, as well as helping others. I wanted them to be full of excitement and drama, so a child would want to keep on reading, and to create a world magical enough that a child would long to go back again and again.

I hope you enjoy them."


Toppsta
2020-05-15
Guest Blog from Zanna Davidson author of Sticker Dolly Stories
Mission outfits - spread

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