Dora’s father owns a dressmaking shop in the bustling garment district of Toronto in the 1940s. Every day after school, ten-year-old Dora runs to help her father in the shop. As she works, she dreams of being a designer herself and dressing the soberly attired mannequins in her own beautiful creations. In Dora’s imaginings, the mannequins seem to urge her on in her fantasy as Dora’s busy father pays scant attention to daughter’s activities. One late afternoon after the shop has closed and while her father is working at his desk, Dora begins dressing up the mannequins. She uses remnants of bright cloth, ribbons and buttons that she finds lying around the shop floor, adding a bright scarf here and a sequin covered hat there. When her father suddenly decides they’ve stayed long enough, Dora is forced to leave her gaily dressed mannequins in the window, with very unexpected results.
Sydell Waxman's eclectic career has encompassed work as an historical researcher, school librarian, museum lecturer, entrepreneur and writer. After graduating from Toronto Teacher’s College, she worked as a teacher-librarian, teaching grades 5 and 6 as well as running the school library and audio-visual department. While raising three children, she returned to University where she majored in English. As her studies continued, she delved into history, women’s studies, special education, journalism and children’s literature. Having published many magazine articles in Canada and the U.S., she has now focused her talents and energies on writing for children. Several of her articles and short stories appear in school anthologies. Her first book Changing the Pattern: The Story of Emily Stowe, (Napoleon 1996) the biography of Canada’s first female physician Emily Stowe, was selected for the Our Choice seal from the CCBC and chosen as winner of the Toronto Heritage Award in 1998. Her second biography, Believing in Books: The Story of Lillian H. Smith (2002) won a pre-publication IBBY Canada Award for outstanding research, called the Frances E. Russell Award. This biography explores the life and times of Canada’s first children’s librarian, taking the exciting life of Lillian Smith from the archives into the public domain. History and entertaining prose are never compromised as Sydell blends the informative with flowing text. Her most recent picture books are set in the past with messages and stories for the future. Set against the bustling backdrop of the 40s garment industry, My Mannequins, released in the fall of 2000 by Napoleon, is a “dream come true” story for a young girl named Dora. The Rooster Prince (2000 Pitsopany Press) goes back further to a nineteenth century rural Russian setting depicting a bright boy, and a prince who thought he was a rooster. Sydell writes daily, researches regularly and entertains children with informative, lively school presentations. An active member of CANSCAIP and of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she compiles a regular column for their cross-Canada newsletter. She teaches Writing for the Children’s Market and Creative Writing for the Toronto Board of Continuing Education.