The Friendship Doll. Kirby Larson. 2011. Random House. 208 pages.
The old doll-maker Tatsuhiko poured boiling water into the teapot with trembling hands and inhaled deeply. It was the last of his tea. He portioned out his breakfast rice and took a seat on a tatami mat. One of the blessings of growing old was that it did not take much to make his stomach content. And this morning his heart was so full that food seemed trivial.
One Japanese doll, Miss Kanagawa, sent in friendship in 1927, finds herself 'awakened' to the joys and sorrows of humanity in Kirby Larson's The Friendship Doll. Miss Kanagawa will be seen by many, many people in her travels. Especially at the beginning. When she's on display, when she's on tour, with the other friendship dolls. But can a doll touch others--touch human lives--if she herself can't be touched or played with?
The Friendship Doll is historical fiction with a touch of fantasy. (Readers will have to believe that a doll is capable of thinking and loving, etc.) The book is a series of stories, the main connection between the stories being the doll. Each story is set in its own time period. The first is set in 1927; the second in 1933; the third in 1937; the fourth covers a handful of years--1939 to 1941. (There is an epilogue that brings it closer to the present.)
For much of the novel Miss Kanagawa acts as a conscience for a handful of heroines. She does this without saying a word, of course. But Miss Kanagawa is more than just a scolding sort of doll. She becomes more 'alive' with each experience. She has always been observant, but she becomes wiser and more compassionate with each adventure. (More human, less doll-like).
Did I like this one? Yes!!! I definitely liked this one! It was interesting to see the different characters. I think I liked the 1933 and 1937 stories best of all. But I enjoyed all of them.
Read The Friendship Doll
- If you like stories about dolls. Like Hitty, Her First Hundred Years. Like Miss Hickory. Like The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Like The Velveteen Rabbit.
- If you like historical fiction set in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s.