One of my deepest wishes in writing The Friendship Doll is that the book might make some reader say, “Hey, I think I saw a doll like that in Grandma’s attic!” and another of the missing dolls would be found.
A few weeks ago, librarian Maggie S. wrote me that she was preparing a presentation for an early literacy conference. The Friendship Doll was in the pile of books to talk about and she opened it up to the Author’s Note, which mentioned the website kept with great love and care by Bill Gordon. It explains the history of these 58 exquisite dolls, sent as gifts to the children of the United States from the children of Japan in 1927, and includes a list of locations to which the dolls were sent after touring the country. Maggie noted, with surprise and pleasure, that the very library she worked for had been the recipient of a doll named Miss Miyazaki and that said doll was on the list of thirteen dolls still missing.
And she got to wondering. . .
This particular library has a large doll collection in the children’s department so she called them. No such doll there. Then she called the library’s chief of operations who had completed an inventory of the library’s entire collection in 2010.
And, lo and behold, a Japanese doll was found! In storage, in fragile condition, but with nearly all of her accoutrements (she was missing a parasol and a pair of shoes, but a girl’s bound to lose a few things in 85 years!).
Well, my librarian friend believed this was Miss Miyazaki. And, from the photo she sent me, I believed, too. But neither she nor I are experts. Alan Pate, however, is an expert and within two days, he had flown to the library from his home in Montana to inspect the doll.
Alan positively identified her as a Friendship Doll. Thanks to an intrepid librarian, my wish has come true! Another doll has been found.
Here she is in her full glory:
|She is in very fragile condition and needs repairs
The library involved has asked that I not mention them by name yet but as soon as I can, I will let you know where this magic has taken place. To make matters even more confusing, Miss Miyazaki is an imposter of sorts — she is most likely Washington state’s doll, Miss Tokushima. You see, the people arranging for the dolls’ travels around the country back in 1928/29 didn’t realize the precise significance of the kimono designs. Dolls and clothes got all mixed up as they were moved from place to place (Alan suspects that Miss M’s accessories are really those of the doll in Nebraska).
I have been dying to share this wonderful news with you and, now, finally, I can. Since I’m a hopeless optimist, here’s what I think: One down, eleven to go!