August 06, 2012

Mary Frances here: The Mary Frances Housekeeper 100th Anniversary Edition is an activity book.  It contains paper dolls to color with colored pencils; paper furniture to color and fold into 3D dollhouse furnishings; and plans to build a beautiful 2-story doll house that you can paint and decorate as you wish.

The original Mary Frances Housekeeper from 1914 included 2 sets of paper dolls and furniture: 1 black & white set to hand color, just like the ones in the anniversary edition, and 1 color-printed set. If you don’t want to color your own dolls and furniture, they can be purchased in color, like the versions below, from my publishers. Contact Piano recordings of my housekeeping songs are also available!

I love to color and you will discover that colored pencils have a lovely effect when overlaid on a black & white illustration. I like to photocopy the pages with paper dolls and furniture first onto cardstock so I don’t have to cut my book apart. And here’s a tip for your doll house: Try using patterned scrapbooking paper to make rugs for the rooms! It makes all the difference!

Now, meet the Doll Family..and their housekeeper, Lucinda!

Look below to see the page with Father Doll and Mother Doll that I hand-colored with colored pencils. Purple is my favorite color and I just had to make one of Mother Doll’s dresses purple!

June 30, 2012

Mary Frances here. If I had to choose my very favorite time of day, I’d have to say it’s story time. Even though I’m old enough to read, I still love to have Mother or Father read me a story at bedtime. We snuggle up with a blanket and it’s so cozy. Sometimes I drift right off to sleep while they’re reading! So you can imagine how much I loved it when I had a great adventure to Story Island. I don’t want to spoil The Mary Frances Story Book for you by telling how and why I got to Story Island, but I will say that a beautiful Story Lady told me tale after tale once I was there. They were the best stories you can imagine. Some were magical, some adventuresome, and some were even a little bit scary. There was something special about the stories, too, because I often learned some good lessons from them.

The Cat and the Carrots


The Story Lady sent me home with a written copy of each story I heard on Story Island, and I am happy to share them with you in my new book, The Mary Frances Story Book 100th Anniversary Edition. There are fairy tales,  folk tales and classics. The stories were written by various authors—some of whom are quite  famous. My collection includes works by Charles Dickens, Henry Longfellow, Sir Thomas Malory, Washington Irving, and James Russell Lowell.

At the end of my adventure, I met face to face with none other than Peter Pan! It was the experience of a lifetime. I think every child would love to read my story book (or have someone read it to them) and see the wonderful illustrations!

This is the last book in my 100th Anniversary Collection; I have now introduced them all. I’m so happy to have them available for the children of the 21st century. Stay tuned, because my friends and I will be keeping in touch!


Mary Frances

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Mary Frances here. The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book is very dear to me because I get such joy out of knitting and crocheting. I owe it all to the Knitting People who taught me how to do needlework: Yarn Baby, Wooley Ball, Crow Shay, Knit, Knack, and a beautiful fairy named Fairly Flew. These wonderful friends taught me to crochet and knit by making doll clothes. It was a great way to learn because the garments are small—and because my dolls now have lots of beautiful, handmade clothes! Aunt Maria thought it was high time I learned needlework and now she is so proud of me. I’m constantly amazed that I can make such things from a simple strand of yarn!

I’m so excited to tell you about The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book 100th Anniversary Edition: A Children’s Story-Instruction Book with Doll Clothes Patterns for American Girl and Other 18-inch Dolls! This special anniversary edition has been completely updated for the 21st century. All of the clothing has been scaled to fit American Girl® dolls and other 18-inch dolls of today. The yarns, hooks and needles are current. There are more than 40 beautiful patterns in this book and it’s now easy for present-day people to enjoy them. Knitwear is so classic in style that these garments are just as stylish today as they were 100 years ago!

Here’s a Show-and-Tell of clothes I crocheted and knitted for my American Girl dolls!

My dolls, Angelina, Emily and Mary Marie are modeling some of their clothes!

American Girl® doll clothes made from The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book 100th Anniversary Edition

The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book at



For more details about this book, please click on the book cover to go to!




Mary Frances here. In my last book, The Mary Frances Garden Book, Billy was the big know-it-all because of the Home Garden Course he had taken from Miss Gardener. Well, in The Mary Frances First Aid Book, I’m proud to say that I’m the authority! You see, right before my birthday, I took a Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Class. I learned so much and I was anxious to show off my new knowledge to Billy. It was always hard to get Billy to play dolls with me, but as a birthday favor, he agreed to spend a day in the playroom playing dolls. It was so much fun! We conjured up such accidents for the dolls (Mother says we have vivid imaginations)—then I got to explain the proper First Aid for the situation. My make-believe name was Miss Helpem, Billy was the ambulance driver and we named my dolls the Brave Family: Mrs. Brave, Hesa Brave, Shesa Brave, Ima Brave, Soami Brave, and little Ibee Brave.

One of the things that impressed Billy the most was the way I can wrap a bandage. There is a true art to bandage wrapping! There are large diagrams in my book and you can practice them on an 18-inch doll just like I did when I was learning.

It’s very important for children to learn how to prevent accidents before they happen, and that’s a large part of The Mary Frances First Aid Book 100th Anniversary Edition. For example, children should know how to identify a poison ivy leaf and to treat fire with respect. And if an accident should occur, it’s amazing how many things can be relieved with simple household items. Most of the things we used 100 years ago are still available today.

I love to play nurse, so I’m very excited about two special additions to The Mary Frances First Aid Book 100th Anniversary Edition. It includes patterns to make a nurse cap and apron just like mine!

The Mary Frances First Aid Book 100th Anniversary Edition at


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Mary Frances here. The year 1912 was such a year! As you know, this is The Mary Frances Books 100th Anniversary website, and there are many other events that share this centennial anniversary year with me. I’ll blog about more of them as the year goes on, but this week is the anniversary of the great ship Titanic’s voyage of April 10-15, 1912. I was just a young girl, but I remember it well. When the ship sank, it was all over the newspapers, and it was all Aunt Maria, Mother and Father talked about for days. It was so sad. A few years later, a little song was written about it. Billy (pictured below) sang it at Boy Scout Camp and I sang it with my Campfire Girls. Linda Wright, the editor of The Mary Frances Books 100th Anniversary Editions, even remembers singing The Titanic song at Girl Scout camp in the 1960s. Here’s how it goes:

The Titanic

When they built the ship Titanic to sail the ocean blue
They thought they had a ship that the water wouldn’t go through
But the good Lord raised his hand that the ship would never land
It was sad when the great ship went down.

Oh it was sad (so sad), so sad (so sad)
It was sad when the great ship went down
To the bottom of the sea..eee…eee….eee
(Husbands lost their wives, little children lost their lives)
It was sad when the great ship went down.


Looking back, I can see noteworthy elements in my 100th Anniversary books that are significant to the Titanic. The Mary Frances Cook Book, written in 1912, has a number of recipes that were on the menu of the Titanic. These were popular foods of the time, so it was fitting for them to be in my cook book. They may not sound fancy by today’s standards, but Jacket-Boiled Potatoes, Lamb Chops, Baked Apples, and Custard Pudding were indeed popular delights at the time.

The Mary Frances Sewing Book
, written in 1913, is full of authentic doll clothes patterns from the Titanic fashion period. This was a time when young girls primarily wore dresses. Our dresses covered our knees and the waistline was placed low. For school, many styles were influenced by sailor suits. We also wore jumpers over a blouse called a “guimpe”.  Pleats were common on our party dresses, and we wore bloomers for play. If you’d like to make clothing for your 21st century American Girl® dolls with historical patterns, The Mary Frances Sewing Book 100th Anniversary Edition is a treasure trove. And if you like to dress your modern dolls with a vintage twist, this is a great go-to for patterns.

I love the way the memory of the Titanic is being honored this week with Memorial Cruises. Those who lost their lives are gone, but they have never been forgotten.

Mary Frances here. My fourth book, The Mary Frances Garden Book, never would have come about without my rooster, Feather Flop, or my older brother, Billy. I was outside sitting on the garden bench one day looking at a seed catalog and I couldn’t understand a thing. I was so frustrated—I even muttered something out loud. I was by myself, so imagine my surprise when a voice answered back! Of all things, it was Feather Flop! He told me that I shouldn’t expect to understand gardening without being taught.

Billy had taken a “Home Gardening Course” at the gardening school from Miss Gardener, and Father gave Billy a section of our yard to practice what he learned. It all seemed so exciting that I wanted a garden, too! Billy suggested that I plant a garden around my play house, and I thought that was a splendid idea…except I had no idea how to get started. Feather Flop offered to help and started to work right away by scratching and digging with his feet! Billy also offered to help…and that is how my adventure among the garden people began.

Feather Flop


It was amazing how much Billy knew about gardening. Miss Gardener sure teaches a thorough class! I hope I can take it someday, but Billy taught me so much, and you will learn everything I learned by reading The Mary Frances Garden Book! It’s almost too much for me to remember, so I treasure this book. I can go back to it again and again if I find I’ve forgotten something. One thing I learned for sure is that there is a lot to know about gardening! Even Billy says it seems the more he studies gardening, the more there is to learn!

The Mary Frances Garden Book 100th Anniversary Edition is the 21st century version of my book. It is so beautiful with a pink cover, fresh typesetting and pictures that look better than ever. It even has directions to make your own gardening apron which is a good thing to have because gardening is dirty work! I can’t believe it’s been a hundred years since I planted my first garden–but time flies! I know you will love the new edition of my book as much as I do. Flowers make me so happy and fresh vegetables from the garden are the best!

The Mary Frances Garden Book 100th Anniversary Edition at


Click the book cover to read more about this book at!

April 04, 2012

Mary Frances here. I don’t know about your paper dolls…but mine have the greatest adventures when there are no adults around. That’s what my third book is all about. The Mary Frances Housekeeper is the story of The Doll Family of Sandpile Village: Mother Doll, Father Doll, Amy, May Belle, Hazel, Tony, Willie and Baby—plus a feisty maid named Lucinda. They live in the sand pile in the corner of my playroom and they were homeless until my mother and I (with help from Billy and Father) made them a beautiful cardboard doll house. Mother Doll was ecstatic! She never imagined she’d be so fortunate as to have such a fine home.

The Paper Doll Family’s House


Now, Mother Doll was a stickler with the housekeeping, and she was determined to raise children that knew how to keep house. She taught them everything there was to know on the subject—girls and boys alike—with chores such as washing windows, dishes and clothes, dusting, bedmaking, furniture care, and setting the table. I learned right along with them, and by reading this book, you will learn, too! I can’t wait to have a house of my own someday, and when I do, I’ll know exactly how to care for it. (If there’s anything I’ve forgotten, I can always refer back to my book!)

The Mary Frances Housekeeper 100th Anniversary Edition makes it fun to learn about housework because you learn by playing house. The book has plans to make a doll house just like the one I made for the Doll Family, plus paper dolls and fold-up furniture to cut out and color. It even has housekeeping songs! Singing while I work makes me twice as happy and the time seems so much shorter. Oh, and I mustn’t forget to mention the patterns—special to the 100th anniversary edition—to make an apron and dust cap just like the ones I always wore to clean house!

The Mary Frances Housekeeper 100th Anniversary Edition at


Click on the book cover to go to!

March 31, 2012

Mary Frances here. The Mary Frances Sewing Book is my second book, and it is very dear to me. I love my dolls and I love pretty clothes—and this book contains patterns to make the most adorable doll clothes! I was spending a summer vacation at my grandma’s house, and one of the things I always loved most was playing in her sewing room. I would explore her fabrics and notions and imagine the beautiful dresses they could become. It was here that I met the Thimble People and a beautiful fairy…and learned how to sew…lesson by lesson…and garment by garment…until I had made a lovely wardrobe for my dolls! The Thimble People taught me to sew by hand, so all of the clothes I made for Angie and Mary Marie were made without a sewing machine. Of course, if you have a sewing machine, you could easily use that instead. My sewing lessons are all clearly recorded in my book, so you can learn to sew from The Thimble People, too!

Now we are so lucky to have The Mary Frances Sewing Book 100th Anniversary Edition: A Children’s Story-Instruction Sewing Book with Doll Clothes Patterns for American Girl and Other 18-inch Dolls! It has been thoroughly revised and updated to be useful for children and seamstresses of the 21st century. I’m so proud of it! My new publisher has re-sized the doll clothes patterns to fit the popular 18-inch American Girl® dolls of today. AG’s Rebecca Rubin was a young girl at the time The Mary Frances Sewing Book was written, so any of these clothes would be historically accurate for her. But you will see that the clothes in my book can easily look modern depending on the fabrics you use, the hem lengths you choose, and how you put your outfits together.

The Mary Frances Sewing Book 100th Anniversary Edition:  A Children's Story-Instruction Sewing Book with Doll Clothes Patterns for American Girl and Other 18-inch Dolls

American Girl® doll clothes patterns from The Mary Frances Sewing Book 100th Anniversary Edition


My American Girl® doll, Mary Marie, wearing the Automobile Coat in a historic version and a modern version.



 Best Wishes and Happy Stitches!



The Mary Frances Sewing Book 100th Anniversary Edition: A Children’s Story-Instruction Sewing Book with Doll Clothes Patterns for American Girl and Other 18-inch Dolls


Click on the book cover to go to!

March 25, 2012

Mary Frances here. The Mary Frances Cook Book is my first book. It was written in 1912—and here it is 2012! My, how time flies! This is the story of my adventures among the Kitchen People. It all started one day when Mother wasn’t feeling well and I wanted to fix her a snack. I didn’t know how to cook, but I thought I’d try my best. When I went into the kitchen, I wished I had help—and suddenly I heard voices. It was the kitchen utensils! They came to life—and had names such as Tea Kettle, Toaster Man and Boiler Pan.

Three Kitchen People

They helped me make the best Milk Toast that Mother said she had ever eaten, and that was just the beginning. For 3 weeks, my kitchen was the most delightful fairyland of cooking adventures with the dearest friends a girl could ever hope to have. I counted 28 Kitchen People in all! Some days I’d jump out of bed early and sneak to the kitchen, I was so anxious to get started! By the end of our time together, I had made meat, egg and vegetable dishes, plus custard, cookies, candies, and cakes. I made breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert—and learned how to cook—just as you will learn by reading my story and following along with the recipes in my book.

The Mary Frances Cook Book 100th Anniversary Edition has some new surprises. You will appreciate that it contains cooking temperatures for present-day ovens. You see, we used coal stoves back in 1912 and they didn’t have temperature controls. It also has patterns to make the cutest apron with a ruffly edge and a cooking cap—just like the ones Aunt Maria gave me! Mine were white, but you can use any fabric you like.

  Apron and Cooking Cap


I loved learning to cook, and I know you will love it too!

The Mary Frances Cook Book 100th Anniversary Edition at

(Click on the cover to go to

Mary Frances here. My books had become so worn and dingy. I was getting embarrassed about their condition — broken bindings, soiled covers and missing pages. I’d even become a bit afraid to handle them for fear they’d fall completely apart! Even though Mother Doll taught me how to properly care for books in The Mary Frances Housekeeper, 100 years is a long time in the life of a book and they have been showing their age.

The original Mary Frances Books, 1912 – 1921


I hear they fetch some handsome prices on eBay from antique book collectors…but they are really too fragile to be used as they were intended. So…I’m delighted to announce the publication of my new 100th Anniversary Editions! They’ve been restored…expanded…and updated to be just right for the 21st century! You can see them on the Home page. I love the new brightly colored covers! The Mary Frances 100th Anniversary Editions are relevant and ready to be loved and used by the children of the world today. They make me feel like dancing!
(Note.–The Mary Frances 100th Anniversary Editions are available at