One of my favorite books when I was young was Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden. I know I was in elementary school, but I can't remember exactly how old
Miss Happiness and Miss Flower are two little Japanese dolls. The story is about an little girl named Nona who has come from India to live with her English cousins. Everything is very strange to her and she is desperately homesick. When a distant relative sends the dolls, she realizes they must find every thing as strange as she does. She enlists the aid of her cousin Tom in building them a proper Japanese house.
The book is many descriptions of Japanese customs--the Tanabata Festival, how a traditional Japanese house is furnished, clothing, food--there are even plans to build your own Japanese house included in the back of the book. It's such a lovely story--through her efforts to make the dolls feel at home, Nona realizes she is part of the family as well.
I adored this book, and wanted my own Japanese doll. I finally got one--this little girl arrived today
She's seen a lot of wear--she's missing some fingers on each hand, her head has a long crack around the middle, her paint is worn and her kimono is tearing in a few places. She's a lot bigger than Miss Happiness and Miss Flower--they were dollhouse dolls, only 5 inches high and she's about 12 inches. But I'm so happy looking at her sitting on my shelf, I'd like to think I've rescued her and given her a place to rest.
In looking for websites on Japanese dolls, I found this one about the Friendship Doll Exchange between Japan and the US Friendship Dolls.
I wonder if such a program still exists--it seems like a great project for our homeschooling group.