Dolly!: The Story of Dolly Parton and Her Big Dream

by Robyn McGrath (Author) Ellen Surrey (Illustrator)

Dolly!: The Story of Dolly Parton and Her Big Dream
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A rhythmically told and vibrantly illustrated picture book biography of Dolly Parton: an American icon beloved by all.

You've likely heard of the performer Dolly Parton. But do you know where this dazzling songwriter and musician draws her roots? As one of twelve children growing up in rural Tennessee, Dolly was determined to be seen and heard.

From her front porch to her church choir, every stage was an opportunity to perform and share her many talents. While balancing farm chores with schoolwork, Dolly never lost sight of her dreams, composing her first song at age five and performing at the Grand Ole Opry at age thirteen.

With lilting language and vibrant artwork, this childhood story captures the unique gifts of Dolly Parton, while also honoring the measures of her success: resilience, confidence, family, and kindness.

Kirkus Reviews

A profile of the Queen of Country Music that conveys the spirit and spunk of a little girl with a big vision.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-4--Composer, entrepreneur, performer, and philanthropist Dolly Parton's lifelong love of music bubbles to the top in this new picture book biography, focusing on her tough upbringing in Tennessee and how that shaped her path. For children unfamiliar with Parton, this digitally illustrated book is as bright as the singer's favorite outfits and its exaggerated cartoon style will connect with fans of animated shows popular today. The text focuses almost disproportionately on Parton's early life, circling around the different ways music made an appearance in her early years--from porch concerts to radio listening to her mama singing--and then moves on, in the final pages, to the artist's first public performances and ultimately her career successes. The language is more poetic than many biographies, but, surprising for the true story of a lyrical maven, lacks flow and rhythm. The inclusion of "Dolly-isms" in the back matter is a treat. VERDICT Add this to any collection that lacks a Parton biography.--Aryssa Damron

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Robyn McGrath
Robyn McGrath spent her childhood dreaming of all the things she could be when she grew up. She still loves to dream, but she also loves writing for young readers. A native Texan, Robyn lives in Austin, Texas with her family where she works as a play therapist and children's author. Dolly! is her first book.

Ellen Surrey makes her colorful illustrations in sunny Los Angeles. Blending her love of mid-century design and vintage children's books, Ellen enjoys finding beauty in the past and sharing it with a contemporary audience. Her work has appeared in such publications as New York Times, The New Yorker, and Los Angeles Times. She makes her debut with Dolly! You can view more of Ellen's work by visiting

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
June 20, 2022

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