The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson.
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 2011
List Price: $15.99
Review: A doll that can talk to children in only their minds sounds pretty odd, right? Well that's exactly what The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson is. This book is quite possibly one of the greatest books I have ever read. It is 201 pages long and is based on actual dolls that arrived in the United States from Japan.
The Friendship Doll begins with a doll named Miss Kanagawa being created in Japan. She, along with 57 other dolls, are transported to America as a sign of friendship to the American children. Miss Kanagawa is presented to New York City in the year 1927, and she awakens the heart of little Bunny. When Miss Kanagawa awakens children, she can speak to them through thoughts. Her thoughts tell them the right thing to do and through her thoughts she bonds with the children.
Miss Kanagawa connects with the following children: Bunny, Lois, Willie Mae, and Lucy. Bunny, wanting no more than love from her parents, wishes to cause her classmate Belle Roosevelt embarrassment when she officially presents the doll to New York. Lois is a girl from Chicago and gets the wonderful gift to go to the Chicago World's Fair. While there, she meets Miss Kanagawa, who helps her decide to think of her friend instead of herself. Willie Mae is a little girl, living in Kentucky, who loves to read. When the opportunity to read to a wealthy (and quite rude) elderly lady comes up, she takes it to support her family. Yet Willie Mae is not the one whose heart is awakened, it is someone else's. And through tragedy, Miss Kanagawa learns a great meaning of love. Lastly comes Lucy. Lucy is a little girl whose mother died, forcing her father and her to make the great move to California. Lucy and her father change through their trip when unexpected turns come, but Lucy keeps a brave face. Miss Kanagawa, at a museum, touches Lucy. However, when Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, Miss Kanagawa is shut away. Even the Great Depression couldn't keep Miss Kanagawa from touching the hearts of people. But, WWII is different. Eventually, Lucy's grandson finds Miss Kanagawa in present-day, and the awakening begins again.
The Friendship Doll is based on the true story of how dolls from Japan arrived to America. Even though 58 dolls arrived in America, 13 are nowhere to be found. The author used magnificent time transitions in this book. The setting and plots are perfectly woven together, like the fact that the book takes place in the Great Depression makes the emotional sense of the book quite interesting. Through this book, I found myself learning lessons from the characters and even feeling touched by Miss Kanagawa herself. All in all, this book is a must read for readers everywhere who want to know the true meaning of friendship.
Review written by Amber (7th grade student).
We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of The Friendship Doll for this review.
Have you read The Friendship Doll? How would you rate it?