One of my favorite things about author, Kirby Larson, is her ability to make historical fiction come to life so you feel like you are living in that time period right along with the characters in the book. That's how I felt when I read HATTIE BIG SKY, and Kirby has done it again in her new book, THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL.
THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL begins with the creation of Miss Kanagawa, one of 58 friendship dolls that were sent to the United States in a gesture of friendship from Japan in 1927. Through Miss Kanagawa's eyes we meet four young girls; Bunny, Lois, Willie Mae, and Lucy--each living very different lives during the Great Depression. From Bunny's moral dilemma, to Lois' dreams, to Willie Mae's tragedy, to Lucy's triumph over poverty we get a picture of what life was like, especially for children, during a very difficult time in America's history. Their stories are told in a way that makes all the sights, sounds, and feelings of that time period feel very real.
This book is written for kids, (okay mainly girls), between the ages of 9-12. It is heart-wrenching and sweet and true to the time period. This is a good book for middle-graders to learn about the realities of the Great Depression, but also to learn about the strength of the people, especially the children, who lived through it. As the character Lucy was told in a letter"What one has to do, one can usually get done."
I would recommend this book to any girl (or boy) who likes reading about American History, or anyone who likes dolls, or anyone who just likes an intriguing, well-told story. In this case, really four intriguing, well-told stories. This would be a good book to read with your child(ren) to help them get a better understanding of what life was like for kids during the Great Depression. It could also open up a discussion about how a positive attitude can make a bad situation better for everyone involved.
I loved reading the historical notes at the end of this book to find out what pieces of this story were real. I love the story of dolls being exchanged between the United States and Japan in a gesture of friendship. Of course, I had to Google "Japanese friendship dolls" so I could see pictures of the actual dolls and find out more about them. You can read about the real friendship dolls and where they are now at this website.
I thoroughly enjoyed THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL. It was a beautiful story sprinkled with historic details, and a positive message throughout. Thank you, Kirby Larson for another wonderful book.
***NOTE: I'm leaving my blurb contest up for the rest of the week, so you can still enter to win THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL, or MY UNFAIR GODMOTHER, or CAYMAN SUMMER.