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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow, ill. William Pene du Bois

WilliamsDoll2William’s Doll: Revenge of the Ascot!

As you’ll hear on today’s podcast, we’re big time fans of this book, but we’d rather like it if Harper Collins could publish a re-illustrated edition. The reasons for this are, as you can see from the images below, pretty clear. With different clothing, we think William’s story could reach a whole new slew of kids, and really strike the message home. That said, in the podcast I make one key mistake. I say that this book was published by Greenwillow. In point of fact, it was published by Harper & Row. It is not a Greenwillow book. So ignore that part of the podcast but do NOT disregard the petition. We’d love it if we could get you on board so that William can meet a whole new generation of fans. It was six years ago (which seems like an awfully long time ago when you write it out like that) when I wrote a post making the case for re-illustrating today’s book. Let’s hope something changes soon. In the meantime, Kate and I also discuss muddied watercolors, absentee fathers (visually anyway), and the life-sized doll that is selling other dolls.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your preferred method of podcast selection.


Show Notes:

– William Pène du Bois was from (and I love this city name) Nutley, New Jersey. Interestingly, he did live in France for a time, and ultimately died in Nice, France.

– As you can see, William is clearly holding his lungs outside of his body.


The preppiest creatures that ever you did say. In other words, men’s men.


Saying “shush” or picking his nose?


Evidence of William’s skills on the court. I do like to believe that William is preferring to wear these penny loafers instead of sneakers to make some kind of a statement.


“Brown plaid brilliance!” Kate would like to clarify that she was trying to say that Diane von Furstenberg designed the grandmother’s wrap dress here. And I take back what I said about the woman’s shoes. Those aren’t “sensible” at all. They’re gorgeous. By the way, we never ever see her face either, a fact Kate and I both missed.


Is this a woman that is incapable of applying blush correctly or, as I suspect, a life-sized doll?


Advice from the Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics


Big Bob, Little Bob by James Howe, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson.


And I’d like to also include Teddy’s Favorite Toy by Christian Trimmer, illustrated by Madeline Valentine.


Let us point out that even this animated sequence from Free to Be You and Me has William wearing more appropriate clothing than in the book.

– Can of nightmare fuel for you, madame?


– One final word before we go. Not long ago I wrote a post about the Drag Queen Story Hours and their recommended booklists. It is worth noting that nowhere have I seen this book used in any storytimes. It simply has fallen out of sight by the general public. I think it’s time to bring it back.



About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. I seem to recall there were new illustrations of this story in the 35th anniversary edition of Free To Be? Am I wrong?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I suspect they were the art used in the special itself. Probably stills. Still an improvement, that’s for sure!

  2. Jeez, William dresses just like Fred from the Scooby Gang! Right down to the jaunty orange neckcloth.

    I haven’t read the book, but if it’s like the song (of which I was a childhood devotee; I LOVE YOU ALAN ALDA), the ending is unforgivably dated and deeply problematic. The triumphant final verse has Grandma belt (GO ALAN ALDA), “William wants a doll so when he has a baby someday he’ll know how to dress it, put diapers on double, and gently caress it to bring up a bubble and care for his baby as every good father should learn to do.” Uh, where is our evidence that William wants a doll because he’s thinking about future fatherhood? And why should ANY boy need future fatherhood to justify getting a doll? Tenderness should be everyone’s purview. William should get a doll simply because WILLIAM WANTS A DOLL.

  3. I have always loved William’s Doll. So beautiful and ahead of its time. I love the Caldecott award winning illustrator, William Pène du Bois as well. The art is definitely dated. I don’t believe many children would be drawn to it. I am all for anything that will introduce a new generation of children to this wonderful classic.