Release Date: September 6, 2022

Print ISBN: 978-1-948559-61-4 • EPUB ISBN: 978-1-948559-64-5 • Kindle ISBN: 978-1-948559-62-1 • PDF ISBN: 978-1-948559-63-8

Brain Mill Press offers King of the Dollhouse in ebook and trade paperback editions. Ebook buyers receive access to EPUB and PDF files, offered without DRM restrictions. Print book buyers receive a physical copy of the book and access to the ebook files in all formats.

A tiny scurrying noise! Then . . . something races out of a shadowy corner of Ellie’s room, gallops up to the dollhouse, and stops short. “Whoa,” calls the smallest sort of voice, and suddenly there is the Queen, gallant and beautiful, on mouseback.

Ellie’s mom is busy writing a book, so Ellie figures she’ll have to use her imagination to entertain herself for a while. Then, alone in her room, from inside the elaborate dollhouse she hasn’t played with in some time, she hears a tiny, exasperated voice. 

Could it be? 

One thing’s for certain: Ellie’s world just got a lot bigger . . . or is it smaller? 

This faithful new edition of Patricia Clapp’s beloved 1974 classic with the original illustrations by Judith Gwyn Brown is certain to charm new audiences with its sharp and independent main character and themes of powerful women and magical personal adventure.


Patricia Clapp (1912–2003) was a beloved author of fiction for children. As a young woman, she attended the Columbia University School of Journalism. After she married and became a mother, she began writing plays for children, eventually publishing more than twenty (as well as a few for adults). When Clapp learned in the course of genealogy research that one of her forbears was Constance Hopkins, who had been a passenger on the Mayflower at age fourteen, she was inspired to write the novel Constance: A Story of Early Plymouth (1968), which was nominated for the National Book Award. Clapp went on to write the ghost story Jane-Emily (1969), as well as the historical novels Dr. Elizabeth: The Story of the First Woman Doctor (1974), I’m Deborah Sampson: A Soldier in the War of the Revolution (1977), Witches’ Children: A Story of Salem (1982), and The Tamarack Tree: A Novel of the Siege of Vicksburg (1986). Because of their enduring appeals, a number of Clapp’s novels are still available to purchase.


An author in her own right, Judith Gwyn Brown (1933–2021)  illustrated dozens of books over her long career and contributed illustrations to magazines, anthologies, and newspapers. Brown was also a renowned oil painter of cityscapes and both human and animal portraits.

AN EXCERPT from King of the Dollhouse by Patricia Clapp

“Oh, drat!” said the tiniest voice in the world.

In the hushed softness of the summer night, Ellie could just hear the sound, which seemed to come from somewhere beside her bed.

“Oh, double drat! Where is that light?”

Ellie’s eyes opened suddenly, and she lay very still, listening. There was a small bumping noise, and then the tiny voice said, “Ow! Oh, that wretched girl! She’s been changing the furniture around again! OW! My knee!”

Not at all sure whether she was awake or dreaming, Ellie rolled over just as one of the little lamps in her dollhouse was turned on. She almost fell out of bed with surprise.

“Well, at last!” said the tiny voice. “That’s better!”

“What’s better?” Ellie whispered.

“Oh. Are you awake?” said the tiny voice. “The light is better, of course. How can I read the paper if I can’t find the light?”

“I don’t know,” said Ellie.

“Nor I,” said the tiny voice. “If you must change the furniture around you might at least leave the light on. I thwacked my knee against the desk. Very hard!”

“I’m sorry,” Ellie whispered. Slowly she hung the top half of herself out of bed, propped her hands on the floor, trying to see into the dollhouse living room. Then, in surprise, she flopped out of bed completely and landed hard on the fuzzy rug.

“Goodness!” said the tiny voice. “You sound like an earthquake!”

In the little blue velvet wingchair sat a very small man with a fat stomach, reading the dollhouse newspaper. He was about six inches high. He wore a gold crown, red and white striped breeches, little red slippers, and a long red velvet cape. After a moment he looked up.

“Good evening,” he said.

Ellie rubbed her eyes very hard to be sure she wasn’t asleep. “Who are you?” she asked.

“King Borra Borra,” said the little man.

“Oh,” said Ellie. Then she added politely, “My name is Ellie.”

“How do you do,” said the little man. Indicating the newspaper with one very small finger, he went on, “You wouldn’t, by any chance, have a more recent paper, would you? I must have read this one at least a dozen times.”

“I only have one,” said Ellie, “and that’s it.”

“What a pity! Although I admit it’s better than the last place I lived. That dollhouse had nothing to read except books that didn’t really open. Very difficult to improve one’s mind by reading books that don’t open.”

<image of Ellie on her knees with her hands propped under her chin>

There was a silence while King Borra Borra went on reading the newspaper, and Ellie went on staring at him. Presently King Borra Borra glanced at her, over the paper.

“We appreciate your bowing to royalty,” he said, “but you may rise now.”

“If I rise I won’t be able to see you.”

“Poor eyesight?”

“Certainly not! But you are very small.”

“You’re very big,” said King Borra Borra.

“Not really. I’m just right for my age.”

“And I am just right for my size.”

There was another small silence. “Where did you come from?” Ellie asked.

The little man gave an infinitesimal sigh, and laid the newspaper down on the table next to the blue velvet wingchair.

“It’s really almost impossible to read the paper with you chattering all the time,” he said. He got up, scratched his little fat stomach and stood looking at her. “And you ask a great many very personal questions,” he added sternly.

“Well, it is my dollhouse, and I do think I have a right to know how you got in there!”

“Through the door. It was not locked.”

“Oh. Have you been coming here every night after I was asleep?”

“For quite some time, yes. I find the place very well suited to the needs of my children and myself.”

Ellie gasped. “Children? What children?”

“The royal babies, of course.”

“But where are they? I don’t see any babies.”

“They are—I sincerely hope—asleep upstairs,” said the King.

“I want to see them!”

King Borra Borra glared at her warningly. “If you turn on a light, and they all wake up and cry, you will have to get them back to sleep again!”

Ellie got up on her knees, and tried to see into the dollhouse bedrooms. There was only a little light, and she had to put her head very close, but then she could see that in some of the beds there were several little humps under the blankets. From time to time, one of the little humps wiggled slightly.

“They’re teeny,” she breathed.

“You certainly don’t expect babies to be full grown do you?”

“And there seem to be quite a lot of them!”

“Eleven, at last count.”

“All the same size?”


“Oh, I wish I could hold one!”

“Time enough for that when they wake up in the morning. I only just got them all to sleep!”

“You mean—” Ellie sank back on her heels. “You mean you’ll still be here in the morning? You’re going to stay?”

“Do you object? Now that you know we are here, there seems to be little point in dashing off into the sunrise every day. There don’t appear to be any other tenants, and it is a most convenient residence.”

“There were other tenants. I have dolls who are supposed to live in there, but I put them all away in my dresser drawer.”

“That seems rather highhanded of you,” the King said. “What had the dolls done to deserve such treatment?”

“Nothing,” said Ellie. “That’s the trouble. They just sat with their legs sticking straight out, and they stared, and when I tried to stand them up, they fell over, and they never curled up in bed like people. The house seems real, and the dolls didn’t, so I put them away.”

“Hmmm,” said the King. “Well, the dolls’ loss seems to be our gain. I trust it is permissible for us to remain here for a while?”

“Oh, yes!” Ellie said happily. “For as long as you like!” She paused, and then added thoughtfully, “I’m not sure how I will explain you to my parents. You must admit you’re a little hard to believe in, Your Majesty.”

“I can see no reason at all to admit that. I have never had the slightest difficulty believing in me. Now, believing in you—that’s another matter.”

Ellie decided to ignore that remark. Instead she said, “Do the babies have a mother?”

The King’s voice was impatient. “Naturally they have a mother! Did you ever hear of a baby who didn’t?”

“Then where is she?”

“The Queen?” The little man walked to the dollhouse mantlepiece, and looked closely at the miniature clock that stood there. The clock always said twenty minutes past ten, which was as good a time as any other. “At this particular moment I imagine she is mouseback riding,” he said casually.

“Mouseback riding?” Ellie repeated.

“There is no reason to sound surprised,” the King said. “The Queen is a very proficient mousequestrian. Of course, it is not the sort of sport I would choose myself.”

“What sort of sport would you choose?” Ellie asked, interested.

“Preferably none. I leave that sort of thing to the Queen. I am more of a homebody. I prefer keeping the house tidy, caring for the children, and supervising their diet.”

“What do they eat?”

“Peanut butter,” said the King.

“That’s all?” said Ellie. “Just peanut butter? For breakfast and lunch and supper and in between times and on their birthdays? Just peanut butter?”

“Just peanut butter,” said the King firmly.

“Oh,” said Ellie. “Well, that makes feeding them very simple, doesn’t it? We have plenty of peanut butter.”

“Good. You had better deliver it rather early in the morning. The babies get up very early, and they are always hungry. And now, I think, if you will excuse me, I shall go upstairs to bed.” He stretched, and delicately covered a yawn with one tiny hand. “I am not one for late nights,” he added.

“But the Queen,” Ellie said. “Won’t she be coming home?”

“Probably not this evening,” King Borra Borra said. “She had arranged to go on a mouseback moth hunt with a group of friends. They carry glowworms, you see, and the light attracts the moths. Now, if you will pardon me. . . .”

He walked out of the dollhouse living room and into the hall. Yawning widely and not bothering to cover it, he started up the stairs.

“You forgot to put out the living room light,” said Ellie.

The King stopped on the stairs and looked at her. “If we are doing the honor of inhabiting your humble quarters,” he said, “the very least you can do is turn out the light after we have reached the upper floor safely! The very least!”

With his chin in the air, he went on up the stairs and into one of the bedrooms. Ellie watched him turn back the covers and climb into the little bed, where he curled up comfortably.

“Your Majesty,” she said softly, “you forgot to take off your crown and robe!”

But there was only the tiniest kind of snore from the bed.

Smiling to herself, Ellie turned off the dollhouse lamp and got into her own bed.

“I don’t believe it,” she said, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were true!”

And in two seconds she, too, was asleep.

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