Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Snooty Manikin: The Friendship Doll

Cybils2011-Web-ButtonBGOne pleasure of the Cybils Middle Grade Finalists this year is their variety.  I've only read three so far, but I've gone from a boy-centered middle school peer group to a ghetto community of cowboys and now I've followed an exquisite Japanese Doll from its introduction to New York society in the early 20th century through the depression and into modern times. Kirby Larson's The Friendship Doll provides a mostly cosy series of strong girls dealing with problems small and large, helped by the inspiration of a doll they only occasionally view.
Miss Kanagawa arrives from Japan as a Friendship Ambassador, and through the course of her career becomes more and more shabby while interacting with various children and inspiring them towards their better selves.  Meanwhile the children themselves teach her about love and humanity, although she never gets to be real.  It's a fun little story that reminded me of Miss Hitty and some other "dolls through the generations" stories, but I felt the lack of connection between the children pushed it more towards an episodic feel than a continuous arc.  Miss Kanagawa's growth wasn't really enough to glue the sections together.

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