Book Review

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The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson, (Delcorte Press, 2011):  My writer friend, Kirby Larson, was researching Hattie Big Sky (which went on to win a Newbery Honor) when she came upon an interesting piece of history.

In 1927, Japanese schoolchildren sent 58 friendship dolls to the United States as ambassadors of friendship. Kirby had seen a photo of a blond farm girl with an exquisite Japanese doll and the seed for this story was planted. The story is told partly through the doll eyes of Miss Kanagawa – a hoity doll at that – who meets children through the ages and imparts telepathic wisdom upon each child. With each child she feels a tug at her heart.

The touchdowns in each era are interesting to me since Kirby does an excellent job of bringing in historical details and jargon of the country’s different regions and time periods. I especially enjoyed the description of the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago during the Depression (although I secretly hoped the girl would ride the Sky Ride.) There’s a valuable message as well as clever methods of exposing the doll to the various children throughout the ages which makes for an interesting read.

Kirby has put out a challenge to find the 13 dolls that are missing. Check your attic!

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