Ibby Bell is twelve years old and her father has just died. Her mother decides to leave Ibby with her grandmother, Fannie, whom Ibby has never met. Ibby is a long way from her home in Washington when she is dropped off in New Orleans at Fannie’s with her father’s urn and no date set for her mother to pick her up.
Fannie lives in a neglected old mansion with a black cook, Queenie, and Queenie’s grown daughter Dollbaby who is the maid. Queenie and Dollbaby watch over the eccentric Fannie and try to help calm Fannie’s fits, but Ibby’s arrival threatens to upset the delicate balance that keeps Fannie out of the local asylum.
These strangers are all Ibby has left, and somehow she must find a way to adjust to her new surroundings and become part of a family in Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal. This coming of age novel takes place in the 1960’s as Ibby learns about race, family, and growing up.