Can a ship carrying Friendship Dolls to Japan be Lexie’s ticket to see her fun-loving mother again? A heartwarming historical novel inspired by a little-known true event.
It’s 1926, and the one thing eleven-year-old Lexie Lewis wants more than anything is to leave Portland, Oregon, where she has been staying with her strict grandparents, and rejoin her mother, a carefree singer in San Francisco’s speakeasies. But Mama’s new husband doesn’t think a little girl should live with parents who work all night and sleep all day. Meanwhile, Lexie’s class has been raising money to ship a doll to the children of Japan in a friendship exchange, and when Lexie learns that the girl who writes the best letter to accompany the doll will be sent to the farewell ceremony in San Francisco, she knows she just has to be the winner. But what if a jealous classmate and Lexie’s own small lies to her grandmother manage to derail her plans? Inspired by a project organized by teacher-missionary Sidney Gulick, in which U.S. children sent more than 12,000 Friendship Dolls to Japan in hopes of avoiding a future war, Shirley Parenteau’s engaging story has sure appeal for young readers who enjoy historical fiction, and for doll lovers of all ages.
About the Author
Shirley Parenteau is the author of many books for young people, including the picture books Bears on Chairs, Bears in Beds, and Bears in the Bath. She lives with her husband in Elk Grove, California.
Tender and funny, this story of friendship and family is reminiscent of Beverly Cleary’s work. Fans of Ramona will have no trouble connecting with and rooting for lively and likable Lexie, and doll aficionados will also enjoy this engaging title. —School Library Journal
In Parenteau’s well-conceived story, transformations come slowly and believably... Parenteau weaves in information about the Friendship Dolls so subtly that it never overshadows Lexie’s story; an author’s note explains the project in full. —Publishers Weekly
Period details from the actual 1926 exchange of Friendship Dolls provide fascinating context for this old-fashioned heroine’s journey of personal growth. ... Historically inclined readers will enjoy this heartwarming story and its feisty heroine. —Kirkus Reviews
Set in 1926, this moving description of a child’s coming to terms with a new family arrangement includes a real event: an exchange of dolls between Japanese and U.S. schoolchildren conceived as a message of peace. Period details abound, but what rings most historically true is the 11-year-old’s relationship with dolls: Emily Grace, who will carry goodwill messages to Japan; and Annie, recipient of confidences and not a few tears. —Booklist
The true story of how American children sent more than twelve thousand dolls to Japan in 1927—to promote friendship, trust, and future peace—serves as backdrop to this well-crafted, involving story. —The Horn Book
The 1920s setting is nicely rendered through dialogue and descriptive details, and Lexie is a sympathetic heroine. The doll “ambassadors of peace” premise is also interesting and historically true, and an author’s note on the real story is provided. —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Students will relate to Lexie as she faces her dilemmas. She is a realistic character. —Library Media Connection