THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL by Kirby Larson (Delacorte 2011) is the tale of Miss Kanagawa, an exquisite doll fashioned by one of Japan's premier doll makers. She is sent to America as one of 57 doll ambassadors. She takes her role as ambassador seriously as several young girls are going to discover when they "meet" her. Larson has fashioned a series of interconnected stories for this novel; the connection that runs through the stories is Miss Kanagawa, a doll that somehow manages to touch the hearts of those special children who see her as more than a doll, more than something to be admired. For those rare few, Miss Kanagawa speaks directly to them, to their hearts; she transforms their lives. <240>
Larson's stories follow the doll from her arrival in New York in 1927 until present time. Each story focuses on one child and her (or his) interaction with the doll. The insertion of magical realism in the form of Miss Kanagawa's "voice" makes the reality of each girl's situation all the more real. As she proved so ably in HATTIE BIG SKY, Larson can relay the details of a hard life without ever letting her main characters or the reader lose hope.