Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson

Delacorte Books for Young Readers (May 10, 2011) 208 pages

My Review:
This book is based on actual events and people. Most of it is purely fiction, though. I think Amazon's description sums the story up pretty well:

"I am Miss Kanagawa. In 1927, my 57 doll-sisters and I were sent from Japan to America as Ambassadors of Friendship. Our work wasn't all peach blossoms and tea cakes. My story will take you from New York to Oregon, during the Great Depression. Though few in this tale are as fascinating as I, their stories won't be an unpleasant diversion. You will make the acquaintance of Bunny, bent on revenge; Lois, with her head in the clouds; Willie Mae, who not only awakened my heart, but broke it; and Lucy, a friend so dear, not even war could part us. I have put this tale to paper because from those 58 Friendship Dolls only 45 remain. I know that someone who chooses this book is capable of solving the mystery of the missing sisters. Perhaps that someone is you"

This book is broken up into sections. Each of the girls has their own story, so other than Kanagawa, they have nothing to do with each other. It makes it much easier if you happen to be reading to a child or children. It doesn't take very long to read each story. As an adult, though, there are a couple of the stories that I would have loved to be longer, especially Willie Mae's.
Lawson does a wonderful job of writing about the Depression. I think this book could help young readers better understand what kids went through during this tough time. It might even teach all of us just how good we have it now. In Lucy's story, she writes a letter to Mrs. Roosevelt. This line just broke my heart:

"I've had breakfast three times in one week! I'll be so fat soon, I won't fit in my overalls."

How sad!

I only have one complaint about the whole book. I didn't really care for this line:

"It wasn't that the Good Lord didn't heed Willie Mae's prayers in general. It was this latest one He paid no nevermind to."

I just don't think God ignores any of our prayers, so some explaining could be in order for children learning about prayer. This isn't a Christian book, though.

The Friendship Doll was a very sweet, but heartbreaking story. It's entertainment and education rolled into one. :)

*I was provided an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for my honest opinion.


  1. Hmmm...that's rather an intriguing idea for a story! Very curious about it. Huh. Thanks for reviewing it for us and putting it on my radar!

  2. It was very interesting! I'd never heard of these dolls before reading this book.

  3. Kirby Larson is one of my favorite children's authors! I highly recommend Hattie Big Sky.

  4. Just a couple of days ago, I stood in front of Hattie Big Sky at the library debating whether or not to get it. Since I already have several to read, I decided to wait. I'll have to pick it up soon, though!