“Tender and funny, this story of friendship and family is reminiscent of Beverly Cleary’s work.” — School Library Journal

It’s 1926, and eleven-year-old Lexie Lewis wants to leave Portland, Oregon, where she has been staying with her strict grandparents, and rejoin her mother, a singer in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Lexie’s class has been raising money to ship a doll to the children of Japan in a friendship exchange — and when Lexie learns that the girl who writes the best letter will be chosen to go to the farewell ceremony in San Francisco, she knows she just has to be the winner. Inspired by a project in which U.S. children sent more than 12,000 Friendship Dolls to Japan in hopes of avoiding a future war, Shirley Parenteau’s engaging story has sure appeal for readers who enjoy historical fiction and for doll lovers of all ages.


Shirley Parenteau is the author of many books for young people, including the picture books Bears on Chairs, Bears in Beds, and Bears in the Bath. She lives with her husband in Elk Grove, California.


Tender and funny, this story of friendship and family is reminiscent of Beverly Cleary’s work. Fans of Ramona will have no trouble connecting with and rooting for lively and likable Lexie, and doll aficionados will also enjoy this engaging title.

School Library Journal

In Parenteau’s well-conceived story, transformations come slowly and believably… Parenteau weaves in information about the Friendship Dolls so subtly that it never overshadows Lexie’s story; an author’s note explains the project in full.

Publishers Weekly

Period details from the actual 1926 exchange of Friendship Dolls provide fascinating context for this old-fashioned heroine’s journey of personal growth. … Historically inclined readers will enjoy this heartwarming story and its feisty heroine.

Kirkus Reviews

Set in 1926, this moving description of a child’s coming to terms with a new family arrangement includes a real event: an exchange of dolls between Japanese and U.S. schoolchildren conceived as a message of peace. Period details abound, but what rings most historically true is the 11-year-old’s relationship with dolls: Emily Grace, who will carry goodwill messages to Japan; and Annie, recipient of confidences and not a few tears.


The true story of how American children sent more than twelve thousand dolls to Japan in 1927—to promote friendship, trust, and future peace—serves as backdrop to this well-crafted, involving story.

The Horn Book

The 1920s setting is nicely rendered through dialogue and descriptive details, and Lexie is a sympathetic heroine. The doll “ambassadors of peace” premise is also interesting and historically true, and an author’s note on the real story is provided.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Students will relate to Lexie as she faces her dilemmas. She is a realistic character.

Library Media Connection

Featured in “BEA 2014: Children’s Galleys to Grab”

Publishers Weekly

Shirley Parenteau featured in Behind the Book

BookPage Children's Corner




Elizabeth O. Dulemba (blog)


Globe and Mail (CAN)

Featured/recommended in middle grade gift guide roundup

San Jose Mercury News


Midwest Book Review



Featured/recommended by a Kidsday reporter


Shirley Parenteau interviewed

Lit Pick (blog)


Sarasota Herald-Tribune


The Dispatch

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