Once upon a time in a cute little white weatherboard farmhouse, in a beautiful place called Meredith near Lake Winnipesauke, there was a girl called Annalee who owned a magic, special smile. She loved to create puppet shows and she sewed the dolls and toys herself, but her husband Chip ran a chicken farm, and he needed her to help him on the farm. Every day she went out to the chicken coops carrying buckets of chicken feed. Her beautiful hands, that itched to paint and sew, dipped into the chicken feed and scattered the grain for the hens to peck up.
Sometimes she sighed as she collected the warm, brown eggs and thought about the magical box that she kept under her bed, filled with colourful felt, buttons, bells, ribbons and lace. Every time she found a little treasure in a shop, and she had a few pennies to spend, she added small pieces of fabric, some paint or a brush to the box. She promised herself that one day she would make beautiful dolls that everybody would love and hang on their Christmas trees! Every time she opened the box she dropped a special magic smile inside.
Annalee and Chip worked hard every day, cleaning out the chicken coops, feeding the hens and sending the birds off to market. At night Chip kept the accounts. With a pair of round glasses balanced on his nose, he pored over the dusty books and tried to make the columns balance. Somehow they never did. He always seemed to be spending more than he earned. Annalee watched him, and felt very sorry for him. She knew how hard he worked.
In the days when Annalee and Chip were young there came a great Recession when lots of people were very poor in America and all around the world. The price of chickens got lower and lower until one day Chip said, ‘That’s it! I can’t do this any more. We’re not making any money out of chickens.’ Annalee ran joyfully up the stairs and pulled the box of treasures out from under the bed. She showed them to Chip. ‘Now it’s my turn to make money for our family,’ she said, for she had a secret! A tiny baby was growing in her tummy and she knew she was soon going to have a family of her own. Chip wasn’t sure that dolls could feed a family, but he didn’t have any other ideas so he agreed to help her sell them.
Annalee sat at the kitchen table, and sewed and painted all night until her fingers grew sore and her eyes ached and burned. She looked in a mirror, and then painted her own special magic smile onto each doll to make sure it would bring smiles and joy to all the people who bought them. In the morning she showed Chip a row of beautiful smiling dolls dressed in pretty clothes, and looking just like Annalee herself! Chip laughed. He knew he would be able to sell these miniature copies of his pretty wife to lots and lots of people. He started knocking on people’s doors and asking them if they would buy the dolls.
From then on Annalee spent all her time making dolls and preparing for her new baby. She turned a chicken coop into a special place where she could design and sew and paint. People came to the farm to see the place where the magical dolls were being made. Some of them said, ‘You can’t just make copies of yourself all the time. What else can you do?’ They loved the dolls so much they wanted more! Very soon lots of people were smiling that special magic smile - just like Annalee’s own. Annalee copied the animals she saw on the farm all around her: mice, squirrels, birds and rabbits. She dressed them in many different costumes for Christmas, Easter , Halloween, Thanksgiving or Valentine’s Day - in fact for any special time when families get together to celebrate their love for each other.
One day her own baby came, and after that she copied him and his brother skiing, swimming and being boys. Chip sold all the dolls she made, and people kept asking for more and more, so they hired some people to help them. Annalee always made sure that the dolls each contained the same magic smile that she had originally pulled out of her special box on that day so long ago. Even today the faces are painted by hand, and checked over five times to make sure they contain Annalee’s magic smile. Chip and Annalee were invited to meet the President because they gave work to so many people in New Hampshire. They won a special award for making so many people happy. They even made some special dolls for Walt Disney! People started to collect the dolls so that now people pay thousands of dollars for special ones.
Annalee and Chip had so much fun making dolls they forgot all about the sadness of the Recession and the poor chicken farm that didn’t work. From then on they made millions of dolls which made millions of people smile and forget their troubles. Today Annalee Dolls Inc still make dolls that smile with magic and the promise of happy family times ahead.