Dory Fantasmagory: Book 1

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Dory Fantasmagory: Book 1 Book Poster Image
Funny, relatable tale of 6-year-old with wild imagination.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Dory's adventures might launch some interesting discussion about what's imaginary and what's real and how to tell the difference.


Positive Messages

Strong messages about the values of imagination, resourcefulness, and learning to get along with others. Your family is your family and you love them, even when they're driving you nuts.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dory and her siblings eventually find ways to get along and gain some insights along the way. Her loving parents are sometimes driven to distraction by her antics but remain strong, affectionate, and in control.

Violence & Scariness

Imaginative Dory populates her world with monsters in every room. In one scene, she stabs the imaginary Mrs. Gobble Gracker with a dart, and in another she tries to poison her. In another, she takes revenge on her real doctor, who's just given her a shot, by stabbing her in the leg with a lollipop stick.


Occasional mentions of "butts." In one scene, Dory explains how bathroom humor is a surefire way to get her siblings to pay attention to her, but there's no explicit language.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dory Fantasmagory is an entertaining story drawn from a lot of real-life experience by author/illustrator Abby Hanlon, a former first-grade teacher. The first installment of a new chapter-book series, it features an intrepid 6-year-old who's about to go into first grade and doesn't let being the baby of the family slow her down. When her siblings ignore her, she fills the house with imaginary (mostly cute) monsters. (The opening page defines "FANTASMAGORY" as "a dream-like state where real life and imagination are blurred together.") Hanlon shows much understated empathy for the characters and what makes kids tick, from Dory's overactive imagination and nonstop energy to the long suffering of her sibs who just want to be left in peace. There are sweet lessons along the way about being part of a loving family. Dory's antics include stabbing her doctor with a lollipop stick as revenge for a shot. And some kids will relish the scene about poisoning a witch; others will find it troubling. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bypeppermint24 June 16, 2018

Fun and funny but beware of some questionable words

My kindergartner really loves the Dory series and started with this one. Dory has a wild imagination and acts and thinks in ways that make my daughter laugh and... Continue reading
Adult Written byteachna January 3, 2015

Silly but not a positive message

I think this book will make a lot of children giggle. Dory has an imaginary friend and her imagination takes over. There is a lot of kid-appeal here. I see this... Continue reading

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What's the story?

Dory, better known as Rascal, is the baby of the family and wants her older sister and brother to play with her. But everything she does to get their attention just annoys them instead, especially when she starts populating the house with imaginary monsters, from her straight-out-of-Sendak BFF Mary to the toilet monster, who attacks you if you sit on the john too long. Her siblings' attempt to terrify her with an evil witch called Mrs. Gobble Gracker backfires badly as Dory takes on her new foe with gusto.

Is it any good?

DORY FANTASMAGORY is our introduction to hilarious, strong-willed, 6-year-old Dory, and it's an entertaining one. In words and pictures, Dory bedevils her older sibs with annoying demands for attention and enjoys a lively time with imaginary monsters, some friendly and others scary.

Author-illustrator and former first-grade teacher Abby Hanlon shows a lively understanding of the way kids really think, feel, and act, which will resonate with younger kids, older kids, and adults. Along the way there are many laughs, moments of new understanding -- and a few antics you probably don't want your kid imitating.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about stories where kid characters have adventures with characters they've made up. Have you ever made up stories about your own adventures with imaginary friends? Were they fun or scary?

  • Do you think brothers and sisters who are different ages should figure out things they like to do together, or should each go his or her own way?

  • When you go to the doctor, do you act like Dory or do you do something else? What would you think if you were at the doctor's office and you saw a kid acting like that?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love early-reader books and silliness

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