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A word from the Editor: Michelle Poploff

May 30, 2011

Now and then we like to give RAoR readers an Insider’s View of what goes on in publishing–today we are joined by Michelle Poploff, editor of many of our wonderful books, including the Newbery Honor Winning HATTIE BIG SKY and  THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL just published on May 10th.

Lillian asked Michelle to talk about “the story behind the story” in these two novels, and like any good story we know this will leave you wanting to read more . Here’s Michelle:

During the many times I had the pleasure of presenting Hattie Big Sky, I always talked about the incredible amount of research that Kirby Larson did to re-imagine Hattie’s life homesteading on the Montana prairie nearly one hundred years ago. Little did we know that in the midst of her research, Kirby would have what I call a “lucky find,” which was a picture of a Montana farm girl standing next to a beautiful Japanese doll. When Kirby told me about this, we decided this was something she would tuck away for the future, while she continued to work on Hattie.

All that was about five years ago. With the success of Hattie Big Sky, Kirby has had the opportunity to travel around our country and many others, but she didn’t forget about that old photo. Finally Kirby donned her researcher’s hat once again and delved into the story of a Friendship Doll called Miss Kanagawa, who was on a very special mission. At first, The Friendship Doll was about one girl and her relationship with the doll, but after some back and forth and further discussions, it evolved into a story of Miss Kanagawa, an ambassador of friendship from Japan who travels the country and manages to touch the lives of four different girls. And it’s terrific that Miss Kanagawa is not a sweet and sentimental doll; she’s kind of full of herself and takes her job very seriously.

What’s fascinating to me is that there were 58 Doll Ambassadors that came from Japan, though only 45 are known to exist. I’m waiting for someone who reads The Friendship Doll to say they know something about one of the missing 13 doll sisters. Then we just might have another page to add to this story that is a wonderful testament to all kinds of friendships.


Join us again on Wednesday when we’ll hear from our colleague Deanna–she’ll be reporting on the the events she was lucky enough to attend with Kirby Larson, including several local bookstore appearances and tea with the author!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2011 9:56 am

    How interesting! During my teaching days, I was a part of a program called Travel Buddies. My class selected a stuffed toy representative of a native animal and sent it to an international classroom along with a disposable camera and journal. The class did the same for us. The Travel Buddy went home with children and “wrote” in his journal about the experience.

    It was a wonderful way for my students to learn about other cultures firsthand and to show them the similarities they shared with kids around the world.

  2. May 30, 2011 11:54 am

    I love reading about the “story behind the story”–so fascinating that a chance find like that developed into another wonderful story. It also serves as a reminder to always be open to possibilities 🙂 These titles are now at the top of my to-read list. Thanks!

  3. June 1, 2011 3:04 pm

    @Kenda: Ditto!

  4. Tonyia Vining permalink
    June 2, 2011 7:39 pm

    I loved Hattie Big Sky enough to imagine Hattie in the future here in our own Seattle. I can’t wait to get The Friendship Doll.Our own Kirby Larson’s imaginings make me giddy to share the joy of a great read with young friends. Random has another reading hit!


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  2. Poploff, Michelle | Writing for Children and Teens

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