Australian RRP: $19.99
New Zealand RRP: $22.99
A companion book to The Ship of Dolls this continues the little known history of the Friendship Doll project of 1926, this time from the Japanese perspective. Chiyo Tamura has been raised in a very traditional rural Japanese family and has never imagined that she might ever leave her small village. However, when her older sister becomes engaged to a neighbor, wealthy landowner, Chiyo is sent to Tokyo to a girls’ boarding school. In Tokyo she discovers that Japan is undergoing a cultural shift as the old ways are abandoned and new Western ways are adopted.
She also becomes involved through her school in the Friendship Dolls project when her school is selected to receive one of the special little visitors and even has a hand in crafting the reciprocal gift doll Miss Tokyo.
But there are many dramas, both small and large, along the way as Chiyo struggles to adapt to life in the school and the city, and deals with the inevitable school bully. Chiyo’s own perception of her own ‘worthiness’ that is her self-esteem and confidence increases as she grows in personality and skills.
Altogether this is a charming book, a very enjoyable read and certainly explored a piece of history of which I was completely unaware.
I highly recommend it to readers from around ten years upwards who will have no difficulty connecting and empathizing with Chiyo.