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The Friendship Doll

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,061 ratings  ·  199 reviews
I am Miss Kanagawa. In 1927, my 57 doll-sisters and I were sent from Japan to America as Ambassadors of Friendship. Our work wasn't all peach blossoms and tea cakes. My story will take you from New York to Oregon, during the Great Depression. Though few in this tale are as fascinating as I, their stories won't be an unpleasant diversion. You will make the acquaintance of B ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2011)
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Sophie Sort of...she narrates part of the time and part of the time the girls narrate
Okay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtA Monster Calls by Patrick NessWonderstruck by Brian SelznickDivergent by Veronica RothInside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Newbery 2012
27th out of 169 books — 697 voters
Okay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtTrue by Katherine HanniganDivergent by Veronica RothBreadcrumbs by Anne UrsuWonderstruck by Brian Selznick
DCL Mock Newbery 2012
8th out of 42 books — 35 voters

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Sometimes you find good book in a round about way. Sometimes you can't remember exactly how you got there. I think this is how I found The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson. A conversation with friends on GR regarding stolen treasures or art led me to searching for some new books on the subject. Larson's book came up in the search. Considering this book is meant for young readers, I normally would have passed it by but the subject piqued my interest and the author had won a Newbery Honor Winner to ...more
After attending NCTE and having friends comment on the fact that I hadn't read this book and why haven't I read it and when was I going to read it, I set about to right this wrong. What a perfectly wonderful book. In many ways it reminds me of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by DiCamillo in that there is an object at the center of the books that is on a journey and needs to understand what love is about. In this book it is a doll, a simply beautiful doll.

Larson uses the fact that in the
I don't know quite what it is, but for some reason this book really annoyed me, and I found it more annoying the further along I got. It started off pretty well, and I wondered how much weight I should put to the feeling that it was strongly derivative of Hitty, Her First Hundred Years. (Not just the idea of a doll moving through time, witnessing American history, belonging to and affecting different children, etc--goodness, you'd think that'd be enough, wouldn't you?--but the doll's personality ...more
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
I can't say enough about this book. I read it in an hour because I could not put it down. I was not familiar with the Friendship Doll Program and this story takes that actual event and intermingles it with wonderful fiction. It touches on different times in American history and interweaves the story of the doll and the story of the children and their families. The book takes us to the Chicago's World Fair, to the Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky, to the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma. This is the BEST y ...more
Syara Villarreal
I had to read this for school. (social studies)
This book was FABULOUS. It would have been at the top of my reading list in 3-4-5 grade. "The Friendship Doll" has everything I loved (and still love really), strong female characters, historical fiction, a little bit of magic/fantasy, talk of travels, dolls that come to life, a cool pack horse librarian, and an eccentric older woman who collects things.

I should create a shelf titled, "Books I feel were written just for me."

*I just created a shelf titled "Books i feel were written just for me"
Sophie Muller
Wow! I was a bit weary to read a book dealing with Japanese culture from someone who isn't Japanese, but I was proven wrong. No stereotypes, but rather fantastic in-depth thinking regarding kindness (Bunny helping her friend instead of tripping her during her speech), friendship (Lois buying a souvenir for her less lucky friend at the Chicago fair instead of riding an attraction that would have made her feel like flying, her cherished dreams), old vs. young age (with Willie Mae Marcum reading to ...more
Each of the stories in this book could stand alone; Larson was able to include so much in just 200 pages. At first I would be disappointed that one story was finished and I had to start over again, but each story became very compelling. I really enjoy books that make me want to find out more about their background (if based on fact), and this one encouraged me to find out more about the friendship dolls. I imagine that students reading this book may not have a lot of knowledge about WPA, the poo ...more
This is another satisfying piece of historical fiction from the always-reliable Kirby Larson. I was mesmerized by the story from its opening pages and read it in one installment. I love how history is woven with the creative imaginings of "What if?" from the author. Fifty-eight dolls actually were sent to this country as Ambassadors of Friendship from Japan in response to doll gifts sent to Japan from the United States earlier. Larson imagines the travels and brief enounters one particular doll, ...more
As a piece of writing, I found much to love in this book, particularly the multiple vividly rendered main characters, the historical detail, and the thought-provoking nature of some of the author's plot choices. Partial spoiler alert: The death of an important character was shocking to me, and left me thinking (still thinking) about the way most lives do not follow a satisfying narrative structure with closure, as was the case here. They are simply cut off, particularly when young people die sud ...more
The history of these Japanese Friendship dolls is completely fascinating to me - and I'm sure it has everything to do with this lovely novel of connected stories.

Webpage with pictures of the individual dolls:

Check out Mary Ann Scheuer's wonderful review here:

Also I plan to incorporate the word geegaw into more of my daily conversations.
Linda Cohen
So far it's just wonderful! I think it's going to be a big hit and can't wait until it comes out so I can recommend it to girls everywhere.
What an absolutely charming book-the stories of the 4 different girls and what they overcome with the help of Miss Kanagawa was one I didn't want to end. I must confess the 3rd story almost had me in tears(won't say any more because I don't want to give anything away) I can't wait until my niece is old enough to read this one. This is by far the favorite kids
Dana \\i believe in the sky//
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

I read this a few years back, in fifth grade and liked it fairly well. The thing that bugged me the most, though, was the arrogance of the doll. I won't go into further detail - mustn't spoil it, eh? - but basically, the doll just seemed very arrogant and mean-spirited. I mean, I guess I understand how she could be angry, especially because (view spoiler)
A story of Japanese friendship dolls that are sent to the United States. How a doll exchange can make stronger ties between countries is not clear to me. At any rate, one of the dolls is self-centered but slowly learns to think of others, and is able to send messages, or in essence talk to, girls that need help and support. She suggests to them the right path to take and brings out their strengths. Each chapter reads like its own short story. The stories got deep very quickly and one in particul ...more
I absolutely love this book. When I was a child, I heard about exchange dolls between Japan and America. But I never got the story in details until I encountered this book. As Japanese living in America, I can't stop thinking about all these doll ambassadors. Wherever you live, in what era, people face same hardships. I do like especially Willie Mae and Lucy's stories. I recommend this book to all who once was a little girl.
Moving compilation of four historical fiction short stories, each about a young girl and connected by the physical and emotional journey of Miss Kanagawa - a Japanese ambassador doll. The girls' stories work better than the doll's which seems slightly under-realized. Much more universal than the girly cover would suggest.
Wonderful new book from the author of Hattie Big Sky. A Japanese Friendship Doll is the link between five stories of friendship, courage and families. It's short, so each story is an intriguing sketch but give fully realized characters and situations.
Colby Sharp
Can't imagine ever reading another book that centered around a doll that I could like more than The Friendship Doll. Loved the character development of the doll.
Great book! A lot like Edward Tulane in that this doll brings peace and closure to so many lives, young and old alike. Love that it is a historical book as well.
One Sentence Review: While some of the girls' stories are stronger than others, it's still a good premise built on a bit of little known history.
Lorraine Stinson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
"It is when we have had our hearts awakened by a child that we can truly call ourselves ambassadors of friendship."

The Friendship Doll, P. 9

Somehow, this inspiring, imaginative book crept up on me as a surprise. How could that be, when every book I've ever read by Kirby Larson was a resounding artistic success? She never fails to hit her mark precisely, crafting stories filled with beautifully developing emotions and characters that get inside of a person and really make a deep mark there. I
Carol Royce Owen
I really enjoyed the history behind this book, and how each new friend of Miss Kanagawa was set in a period of American history that added to the story. Miss Kanagawa was a beautifully ornate doll who came to America from Japan along with 57 other doll in 1927 as a sign of friendship between Japan and the US. The dolls were spread throughout the US and were put on display in museums and were honored until the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor when most were taken out of displays. At this time mos ...more
I do love a good historical fiction book! This is the fictional story of Miss Kanagawa, one of 53 real Japanese dolls sent to the US in 1927 as "messengers of friendship". Over the course of the next 80-odd years, Miss Kanagawa comes in contact with several young girls: Bunny Harnden who participates in the welcoming committee for the dolls and envies her classmate, Belle Roosevelt (President Roosevelt's granddaughter), who is chosen to give the acceptance speech; Lois Brown who visits the World ...more
Richie Partington
9 May 2011 FRIENDSHIP DOLL by Kirby Larson, Delacorte, May 2011, 208p., ISBN: 978-0-385-73745-6; Libr. ISBN: 978-0-385-90667-8

"I have to say my friends
This road goes a long, long way
And if we're going to find the end
We're gonna need a helping hand."
-- Elton John, "Salvation"

"Though he wasn't like Kurita -- a man whose endless boasts clanged like the chappa cymbal -- he was proud of his efforts. His wife would be too, were she still living. Miss Kanagawa was a doll like none other. The size of a
Mary Ann
In 1927, Japanese schoolchildren sent 58 dolls to the children of the United States as a gesture of goodwill and friendship. Kirby Larson shapes a touching story, following the travels of one of these dolls, Miss Kanagawa. At first, Miss Kanagawa is haughty and dismissive of the children who come to see her on display. “I am above all an ambassador, a dignitary. I simply happen to be a doll.” But through the course of the story, her heart is awakened by four different children she meets during h ...more
"The Friendship Doll" by Kirby Larson, a middle grades read, is being discussed as a possible contender for the Newbery (Larson's "Hattie Big Sky" was a Newbery Honor Book). Larson's latest is a wonderful example of a well-researched piece of Historical Fiction. The story was inspired by a photograph Larson found while doing research for "Hattie Big Sky" of a young girl standing next to a Japanese doll that was nearly as tall as she was. Based on a true story, "The Friendship Doll" begins in 192 ...more
In 1927, Japanese schoolchildren sent 58 magnificent dolls to the US as a sign of friendship. One of those dolls was Miss Kanagawa, who, over the years, touches the lives of many people, including a wealthy but lonely girl in 1927, a girl attending the Depression-era Chicago World's Fair, a backwoods Kentucky girl and the elderly grouch who hires her to read aloud in the 1930s, and a dispossessed Okie girl whose father is taking them to California. Miss Kanagawa teaches them about friendship, an ...more
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Kirby Larson went from history-phobe to history fanatic while writing the 2007 Newbery Honor Book, HATTIE BIG SKY. Her passion for historical fiction is reflected in titles such as THE FENCES BETWEEN US, THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL, as well as the sequel to HATTIE BIG SKY, HATTIE EVER AFTER, and her two latest titles, DUKE--which was nominated for 5 state Young Reader Choice awards as well as being a fina ...more
More about Kirby Larson...
Hattie Big Sky (Hattie, #1) Hattie Ever After (Hattie, #2) The Fences Between Us: The Diary of Piper Davis, Seattle, Washington, 1941 (Dear America) Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival Duke

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“Our actions make the fragrance of our lives...Would you smell of plums? Or Vinegar?” 7 likes
“The wren and the nightingale sound nothing alike, but think how dull the world would be without the songs of both birds.

—Miss Kanagawa”
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