Google+ Bookslingers Blog: Heart-Cockle Warmer: The Friendship Doll

Heart-Cockle Warmer: The Friendship Doll

Sometimes there is no better word to describe a book than "sweet." The Friendship Doll by Kirby Lawson is one of those books.

In 1927, 58 Japanese dolls were sent to the America as ambassadors of friendship in the wake of the 1924 Immigration Act that shut America's doors to Asian, East Asian, Southern and Eastern Europeans. Blue-eyed American dolls were sent to Japanese schoolgirls and in return, exquisitely-crafted dolls were sent to build friendship between the two nations. Only 47 of 58 dolls' story is known.
The Friendship Doll is one doll's story. Miss Kanagawa travels and touches the hearts of many girls on her journey through America. There's Bunny who is bent of wreaking her revenge on a pesky Roosevelt. Lois Brown at the Chicago World Fair who has to make a decision about the worth of friendship with Miss Kanagawa's help. The saddest story is that of Willie Mae, an Appalachian girl who wants to read and write more than anything in the world. And Lucy Turner, a young girl from the Dust Bowl Oklahoma who travels with her increasingly bitter father to find work during the Great Depression.

This is a fascinating story, beautifully told. It would have been nice to see more diversity representing America but the hardship of children in different classes and areas was realistic and rich in historical detail.

The dolls themselves are spectacular:
From the University of Nebraska State Museum
They were made with real human hair and traveled with everything a tiny lady would need to serve as an ambassador (including clean underwear and a tiny teapot with tiny tea cups). In The Friendship Doll, Miss Kanagawa acquires different momentous from all the girls whose life she has touched.

This sweet book with hopefully interest more people in the history of these fascinating dolls. I would love to read a follow up book about the American dolls sent to Japan. Sequel? Finger crossed.