Ship of Dolls
Ship of Dolls (The Friendship Dolls Book 1)
Ship of Dolls
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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.

Book Details


  • Fiction
  • Historical Fiction
  • Juvenile Fiction

Age Level: 

  • 8 - 12
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  Friendship dolls are being sent to Japan as a peacemaking gesture. Eleven year old Electra (Lexie), Lewis is helping her school buy a friendship doll for Japan. She lives with her Grandma and Grandpa because her mom lives in San Francisco as a singer for a night club. Her dad was killed in an automobile accident when Lexie was younger.

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All eleven-year-old Lexie wants is to leave Portland, Oregon and travel to San Francisco, California. Her strict grandparents, whom Lexie is living with, want her to grow up to be a proper lady. Lexie just wants to be with her Mama, in San Francisco. However, Mama’s new husband doesn’t think Lexie should stay with parents who work all night and sleep all day. Lexie’s class at school is raising money to send a doll to the children of Japan to try and keep peace and prevent a war.

From the Publisher

Here are some of the things publishing industry reviewers have said of Ship of Dolls:
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
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
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
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.
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