The Friendship Doll

Friendship Dollby Kirby Larson

This is a delicious book that made me smile many times. Miss Kanagawa, a three-foot-tall doll hand-made in Japan, came to the United States in 1927, along with 57 other dolls, as an ambassador of friendship. That much is a true story. What American children might she have met, and how might she have affected their lives? That is where Kirby Larson’s vivid imagination kicks in.

A rich, spoiled girl in New York City in 1928. A daughter of an unemployed mechanic in Chicago in the early days of the Depression.  A lively reader from a fatherless family in “the holler” in backwoods Kentucky in 1937.  An Okie girl whose family lost their farm in the Dust Bowl and had to look for work on the West Coast. A modern-day boy in Seattle.

At first I thought the messages about friendship, as given by this doll, might be clichéd, but Newbery Honor Winning author Kirby Larson doesn’t do clichés. Each of these children speaks with a clear, distinctive voice, using fresh metaphors and images true to their time and place. Even Miss Kanagawa has attitude. And all of these compelling mini-stories have surprise endings!

I highly recommend this book, especially for girls who think they have outgrown their love for dolls.

Kirby Larson's website is