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Get a Glimpse Into the Launch of Author Kirby Larson’s The Friendship Doll

June 1, 2011

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to meet a writer whose books you not only love, but who you connect with on a personal level. Kirby Larson is one such writer. We’re thrilled to be publishing her second novel this month. Kirby’s first novel, Hattie Big Sky, was a local favorite but proved to have national appeal when she received a Newbery Honor for it in 2007. Based on the story of her own homesteading grandmother in Montana, Hattie was rich with historical details about WW I and Westward expansion, but also had tremendous heart. Kirby’s new novel, The Friendship Doll, shares many of the same qualities and at the same time tackles completely new territory. It’s based on the true story of dolls that were brought over from Japan to help improve the relationship between the U.S. and Japan. She writes from the perspective of one doll in particular who goes on a journey through our country during the Great Depression. The stories of four girls told through the eyes of a doll make for an excellent way to learn about the struggle many went through during this time as well as how WWII was a set-back to Japanese-U.S. relations.

The week the book launched Kirby held two events which I was lucky enough to attend.

The first was a tea held at her house. We were treated to beautiful food

as well as tea served in gorgeous antique teacups

Each attendee was treated to a signed book and bookmark,

and Kirby talked to us about the process of how the book came to be.

It was a rare, perfect day in Seattle so we went outside to admire Kirby’s garden and get a picture of all of us in that elusive Seattle sun.

Pictured L to R

Rene Holderman, Third Place Books

Christy McDanold, Secret Garden

Deanna Meyerhoff

Rene Kirkpatrick, Third Place

Mary Harris, Parkplace Books


Stesha Brandon, University Books

Lauren Mayer, University Books

Suzanne Perry, Secret Garden

Mary Jo Huelsemann , University Books

Jane Morck- Third Place Books

Patti Johnson- Third Place Books

A few days later, Kirby launched her book to friends and family, appropriately, at a doll museum! The Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art is located just outside of Seattle and has an incredible collection. Even better, they have one of the Friendship Doll’s that the story is based on. They featured the doll in the front entryway for the event, though unfortunately we were not able to take pictures. It was a wonderful event. Not only did my daughter and I get to admire the dolls in the collection, but I was happy to see some old friends. Chauni Haslet, owner of All for Kids Books for many years, made a rare post-retirement book-related appearance. Erin Ostrander, who was a bookseller at Secret Garden and went on to be a children’s librarian with the King Country Public Library, also came. It was an easy commute as her branch shares a parking lot with the museum!

Here they are flanking Christy McDanold from Secret Garden.

Kirby signed and personalized books for everyone there.

I stayed so long that Ms. Ruby coerced me into buying her a doll (they kindly kept the gift shop open through the whole event). Here she is with her Groovy Girl doll, who from this day forward shall be known as Fairy Girl.

The Friendship Doll is a unique and affecting middle grade read, and I imagine, like Kirby’s other novels and picture books, will be recognized for both the content and the skillful way in which she presents it. Bravo, Kirby!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dandy permalink
    June 1, 2011 1:23 pm

    I agree with Deanna, Kirby has done it again! I loved this book.

  2. June 2, 2011 7:08 am

    The pictures tell a great story! (Wish we were there!)

    Our 7 and 10 year old readers love a historical fiction and we’re putting together our summer reading list –looks like with have another fine addition!

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