In The Runaway Dolls the Palmer family is going on a two week vacation giving the dolls the freedom they so love all day long. As long as no one is home, they are allowed to roam about their home, or out of their home as is the case for the Funcraft Family and they essentially come to life. A package has been delivered to the house with the return address of the toyshop in London, a hundred years old. Annabell Doll and Tiffany Funcraft are determined to solve the mystery of the contents. They discover, against their parent's wishes that Tilly May the long lost baby sister for the Doll Family has been sent after all this time. The dolls are constantly struggling with being alive and not letting the humans know. If the humans ever see the dolls in action or notice a change that isn't explainable the dolls can be put in Doll State. That is twenty-four hours of being frozen. Then if the dolls are to risk the entire oath the dolls take when they are made, there is the chance of permanent doll state.
This book is packed with adventure and mystery. Annabell and Tiffany decide to runaway with Tilly May so they can keep her a secret and Annabell can have her original little sister. They hitch a ride in the neighbor's wagon. They fall out and are stranded in the woods, to survive a dangerous night. Luckily, their brothers Bailey and Bobby were spying on them and are now on the adventure to help. Their help doesn't get them far but in an attempt to get home they end up seeking safety in a department store and become part of the toy department. The toy department comes alive at night and they their adventures continue until they realize they need to return home before the Palmers. This book weaves components of the other two stories so you could pick it up and read it alone but if you enjoy reading a series I would recommend reading them in order; The Doll People, The Meanest Doll in the World, and The Runaway Dolls.
Fantasy is not my first choice of genre to read and these books seem to help readers, students and adults take the push they might need. I've also found these books to be very successful with boys and girls.
Brian Selznick has illustrated each book with his wonderful pencil media. However, in this book I feel there is a change in his work. The story begins with several pages of illustrations that help provide the history behind the package arriving to the Palmer house. I think he intentionally does a bit more of his graphic novel work within this one.