Review Blog

Jan 21 2019

Dolls of war by Shirley Parenteau

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Candlewick Press, 2017. ISBN: 9780763690694.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: World War Two, Japan, Dolls, Prejudice, Museums. In 1941, eleven-year-old Macy James lives near the Oregon coast with her father, the director of a small museum. Miss Tokyo, one of fifty-eight exquisite friendship dolls given to America by Japan in 1926 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_friendship_dolls) is part of the museum's collection. This doll represents more than the place of her mother's birth; it links Macy to her mother who has recently died. It is a doll they spoke of together often, Mrs James wanting to take Macy to Japan to meet the people she grew up with and it was her dearest wish that she meet the maker of the doll, Miss Tokyo. When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, many of Macy's neighbours demand that Miss Tokyo be destroyed. From Macy's friend, Lily who thinks it should be put away to those who want it destroyed, Macy has to stand firm.
She decides to hide this doll which reminds her of her mother, and keep it hidden until people's discomfort with the doll dies down. But as the war progresses, Macy begins to have persistent doubts about her actions, and begins to think that perhaps her neighbours were right in their push to destroy the doll.
An engrossing story of conflicting loyalties, of prejudice and judging people, this is one of a trilogy called Friendship Dolls, the first two being Ship of Dolls (2018) and Dolls of Hope (2016). The story of these dolls can be found in the Wikipedia site above, which details what happened to the 58 dolls sent to the USA. The background of the story is riveting, bringing up small details of life lived during the war for many people, and of the prejudice shown to people who have been friends and neighbours for years.
Fran Knight

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