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Joan Walsh Anglund Biography and Pocket Dolls

This American writer has published over 95 books mostly for children.

Joan Walsh Anglund book, "What Color is Love?" pictured with two Pocket Dolls.

Joan Walsh Anglund book, "What Color is Love?" pictured with two Pocket Dolls.

Joan Walsh Anglund biography

The prolific author of many beloved children's books, whose characters have been made into pocket dolls, Joan Walsh Anglund, was born Joan Marie Walsh on January 3, 1926. As a writer, she has published over ninety-five books, her first being, A Friend is Someone Who Likes You, in 1958.

Having lived in Hinsdale, IL and Redding, CT, Joan Walsh Anglund was educated at the American Academy of Art and the Chicago Art Institute. She also is the illustrator of her written works.

Walsh's books are mostly about love, friendship and faith. Both the books and the sweet characters, with large heads, far-set eyes, and no mouths, are endearing to parents and children alike. In fact, Walsh's own children, Joy and Todd, were often her inspiration.

The instantly recognizable characters Walsh illustrated in her many books, combined with the simple, yet everlasting messages of love, friendship and spirituality having withstood the test of time, make many consider Walsh an American icon.


The "Flower Girl" pocket doll ©1966, 1968

The "Flower Girl" doll is illustrated next to the title page of "What Color is Love?"

The "Flower Girl" doll is illustrated next to the title page of "What Color is Love?"

Joan Walsh Anglund books

As a child I only owned a single Joan Walsh Anglund book, "What Color is Love?" I remember reading its pages time-and-time-again - a bit entranced by its simple, yet profound message:

"Color is something we see with our eyes, but love is something we see with our heart."

First published in 1966 by Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., perhaps the jacket cover explains this book and illustrations by Joan Anglund Walsh the best:

"In a delicately stated text that reflects her own deep concern, Mrs. Anglund poses the question: "What color is love?" Sparkling full-color paintings and charming line drawings enhance the meaning of a book that will be treasured by young and old for its beauty of thought."

Although never explicitly stated as such, perhaps this particular book is a response to the turbulent Civil Rights Movement in the United States during the 1960s. Afterall, What Color is Love? followed the heels of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's I have a Dream speech in 1963, as well as the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

While most books by this author are now out of print, many used copies can still be purchased on various websites like:,, or, to name a few.

Some Joan Walsh Anglund book titles include:

  • The Brave Cowboy
  • A Friend is Someone Who Likes You
  • Love is a Special Way of Feeling
  • My Sister, My Friend
  • A Pocketful of Proverbs
  • What Color is Love?
  • You Are Loved


Joan Walsh Anglund pocket dolls are collectible

Joan Walsh Anglund Pocket Dolls

Joan Walsh Anglund Pocket Dolls

Rain Coat pocket doll with school book © 1963, 1970

This Anglund Pocket Doll has its raincoat, rain hat, boots and book bag with string.

This Anglund Pocket Doll has its raincoat, rain hat, boots and book bag with string.

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Joan Walsh Anglund dolls

Pocket doll description:

The Pocket Dolls are dolls of the characters found on the pages of Joan Walsh Anglund books. They are around 7-8 inches tall, making them pocket-sized and absolutely adorable.

Their big round sock-faced heads with only two eyes on top of a small body wearing detailed clothing make them something special compared to the dolls of today, as well as collectible to fans of Joan Walsh Anglund.

The two Pocket Dolls in my possession are nowhere in mint condition, yet they have all the appropriate tags with copyrights and listing them as "Products of Japan," as well as all their clothing, shoes and accessories.

In fact, I have yet to see the Pocket Doll wearing the raincoat with its schoolbook on any auction site, like the one pictured to the right.

Where to buy pocket dolls:

Pocket Dolls can be found on various auction sites such as Some current Ebay auctions of Anglund Pocket Dolls are listed below.

Determining the value of a pocket doll:

For owners of Joan Walsh Anglund Pocket Dolls curious about their value, sites such as will allow members to search their Worthopedia Price Guide for prices from an index of past sales and auctions for research purposes.


Other Joan Walsh Anglund collectibles

Collectors of Joan Walsh Anglund will find this artist's easily identifiable images on many types of collectible items including:

  • Prints
  • Figurines
  • Samplers
  • Plates
  • Paper dolls
  • Ornaments
  • Birthday cards

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tom barkley on June 02, 2012:

i have in my posession a 1967 pocket dolls x mas boy and girl with the wire sleigh, i can't find a rarity or value on these, can anyone help? email me please i want to pass them down to my granddaughter and want to know if i should let her play with them or not

Lyn on April 08, 2012:

When I was very small, my father's aunt and uncle sent me the Little Flower Girl pocket doll and the book the character appears in. They gave my brother the book with the little cowboy and the pocket doll of the little boy with the Teddy bear. The book is long gone but I still have my flower girl doll. Thanks for the information on JWA and her dolls and books. I'm waxing nostalgic for things from my childhood and would like to find some of her books. I'm happy to have found your site.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on January 23, 2012:

It's so much easier with sites like Ebay etc. to find out-of-print and hard to find books, as well as other items that seem unattainable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Enlydia Listener from trailer in the country on January 23, 2012:

Thankyou for sharing your pictures and your childhood memories. It brought back a memory of a book that I loved as a child and is now not obtainable. Funny how some of the books you read as a child held such meaning.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 13, 2011:

Eiddwen - I appreciate the compliment and I am glad you enjoyed this Joan Anglund Walsh article. They really are the sweetest books and dolls. Thanks for stopping by.

Eiddwen from Wales on December 12, 2011:

I so very enjoyed this one.

Very interesting and well presented.

You really do have some amazing hubs and I look forward to reading them.

Take care


Louise from Calgary, AB, Canada on November 03, 2011:

Hi ktrapp, these dolls are wonderful, I never owned anything like these as a young girl. I think the original books and the dolls would make awesome gifts! Voted up.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on November 01, 2011:

Stephanie - HaHa -You didn't say anything wrong; I just got thinking that if dolls from the 60s are vintage or look vintage then am I vintage since I was born in the 60s? :)

Davenmidtown - According to your vintage definition, I am pretty sure I'm not vintage. Haha :)

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on October 31, 2011:

ktrapp... you do not look vintage either... hahaha... I think vintage as a label in people only occurs after they have departed this world...

Stephanie Das from Miami, US on October 31, 2011:

Ooh, I didn't mean to say that! I just meant that they LOOK vintage!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on October 31, 2011:

Thank you Stephanie. Many of the Joan Anglund Walsh pocket dolls featured in this article are from the 60s and 70s. I am not sure that I like to think of these dolls as vintage because then I would have to think of myself as vintage!

Stephanie Das from Miami, US on October 31, 2011:

I've seen these all over. They even look a bit vintage, they are different from most of the popular cartoons that kids are liking today. Cool hub!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on October 29, 2011:

That's a cute story. I remember when my son went to kindergarten, for the first couple months he would always tell me about his new friend that he made in class. When I finally met his friend I was surprised to see that he was black since my son never mentioned it in all the times he talked about him. I thought that was terrific on his part and ashame that as adults we so often first describe people by their outward appearances or how they are different from ourselves. Kids are great at that age!

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on October 29, 2011:

It is so true. I had a cousin who used to keep kids in her home when her children were too young to go to school. One day she was keeping an African American baby boy and she was changing him. Her son looked down and was surprised that he was black under the diaper and pointing said, "Mama, his is black." He never thought about the color of the child until faced with a part that he had not seen before. It was a good lesson to learn since he enjoyed playing with the child and considered the child to be an equal. If he carries that into adulthood, he will be all the better for it!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on October 29, 2011:

Homesteadbound - I was thinking...This book is more-or-less viewed as a children's book, but I have always found most young children to be "color-blind." It's a nice message for parents to hear as they are reading it to their kids, as well. Thanks for your thoughtful words.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on October 29, 2011:

Aren't they cute homesteadbound? There is something intriguing about their blank faces that still seem to have so much character and happiness. I have always wondered if there was any significance to Joan Anglund Walsh making their faces like this, as well as there oversized heads in comparison to their bodies.

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on October 29, 2011:

If love is blind, then the color just might be warm and fuzzy! And if love is blind, it sees what is on the inside rather than what is on the outside.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on October 29, 2011:

Thank you for your comments and votes. "What Color is Love?" may be sparse in the amount of words on its pages, but it is packed with "beauty of thought," as the jacket cover states.

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on October 29, 2011:

The dolls are really cute! The faces are so simple and adorable. Even without a mouth, the dolls somehow exude happiness. I have not seen any that I know of but will have to find one and have a look at it. Great hub!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 29, 2011:

Very informative and educational. Love the quote: "Color is something we see with our eyes, but love is something we see with our heart." Thanks for sharing. Voted UP and BEAUTIFUL.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on October 28, 2011:

The Pocket Dolls really are cute. I got the flower doll with the book as a gift when I was a young girl. The pocket doll in the rain coat followed. I always love the idea of a book and character doll/animal as a gift for children.

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on October 28, 2011:

Those are just amazing! I think I will share one with the 5 year old across the street for Xmas along with one of her books! Voted up and Sharing.

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