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When I was young (very young), I loved playing with paper dolls. Keep in mind, I grew up in a post-Communism former USSR country where many things were scarce, including toys. Many of my paper dolls were hand made, and the ones that were store bought were immediately glued on to a sturdy cardboard cutout to make them last longer.

I spent hours making up stories for the paper characters and changing their clothes, and then changing them again. I even came up with an ingenious way to keep their clothes on – attach them with pins! That didn’t work too well for the making-dolls-last plan…

When I saw Emily Martin’s The Black Apple’s Paper Doll Primer, I was instantly transported back to my childhood. Emily is a #1 handmade seller on Etsy.com and her shop, The Black Apple, enjoys quite a following.  She’s now bringing her creativity to the Paper Doll Primer book, which is chock full of dolls, clothes, craft projects, scrapbooking tips, and much more!

The Black Apple’s Paper Doll Primer starts out with 20 characters created by Emily, each complete with a back story to spark one’s imagination. There’s the adorable Cora in a sailor dress who enjoys “looking over the night ocean”, the woodsman Henry who “prefers honey to syrup”, and many more. Following the characters is a section with hundreds of paper outfits that correspond to each doll. Emily notes that all “beautiful things are made to be used” and in the case of her dolls, cut out and played with, but I just couldn’t bring myself to cut into the beautifully illustrated pages!

Emily also provides instructions (and drawings) for building back drops and scenes for the paper dolls, creating an armoire for their clothes and mounting the dolls onto Popsicle sticks or stands for easier use. My favorite part of the Paper Doll Primer are the 16 customizable dolls on card stock that can be made to resemble anyone, including the owner of the book.

The Black Apple’s Paper Doll Primer is too charming for words and will provide endless entertainment for an imaginative youngster…or an adult who wants to play along!