Miss Happiness and Miss Flower

Rumer Godden again does a wonderful job of capturing the bullying, loneliness and isolation that are often a part of childhood.  When Nona moves from India to England to stay with her cousins, she is homesick and withdrawn.  Her youngest cousin, Belinda, is completely unsympathetic. When two Japanese dolls arrive for the young girls, Nona feels that they must also be homesick and sets about trying to make things right for them. In the process, she comes out of her shell and ends up getting the whole family, and even some new friends, caught up in her excitement.  Only Belinda wants nothing to do with the process and she ends up feeling excluded and lonely herself.

Miss Happiness and Miss Flower are more passive than many of the toys featured this past week, but they do quite a bit of Godden’s signature “wishing” which usually translates to people understanding their desires.

The vocabulary in this is not too difficult, except for some references to Japanese traditions, which are explained in a glossary/notes section at the end.  I was actually really excited to see this feature in a fiction book, because for children usually these are only available in non-fiction.  I think this book could be read aloud to younger children and should be about on grade-level for an average third grader.  As with Four Dolls it will still be engaging for slightly older children provided they have an interest in the material.

Great for: Getting children interested in other cultures.  Nona’s love for these dolls has her remember everything she’s ever read about Japan, and then gets her hunting for even more information.  Don’t be surprised if your reader is begging for a Japanese dollhouse in the end.  The book even comes with plans, so consider yourself warned!

Sex, Nudity, Dating – One naked baby doll.
Profanity – “darned” used once
Death, Violence and Gore – None
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None
Frightening or Intense Things – None

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3 Responses to Miss Happiness and Miss Flower

  1. Ann says:

    I recently read this to Sadie who LOVED it. We had to track down Little Plum immediately after and Little Plum was even more beloved. I like Little Plum better as well…because Belinda is so brave and naughty and the interaction between Belinda and Gem is perfectly written.

    My favorite Rumer Godden book is The Doll’s House but Sadie didn’t like it very much. Too much anxiety throughout. I think she was as scared as the dolls during some parts.

  2. Mrs. N says:

    I wish I had Little Plum here, but sadly it is locked in my classroom and I haven’t read it in years. I don’t remember The Doll’s House at all, I wonder if I’ve read it.

  3. Ann says:

    The Doll’s House is about two sisters, Emily and Charlotte, who own an heirloom wooden doll, Tottie, and some newer dolls, which they have gotten through various channels (all described in detail). The dolls make little family: a mother, a father, Tottie, a little brother and a pet dog. Then, the girls inherit an old dollhouse, which comes to them in ruins but they fix it up. The dollhouse also comes with a doll, who is very beautiful but not a nice doll, and who has a long history with Tottie.

    I love it. Check your library for both Little Plum and The Doll’s House. Ours didn’t have Little Plum but got in from inter-library loan.

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