I recently discovered the Internet Archive, where one can read older books online by borrowing 1 hour at a time. This is a fantastic resource for those older books you loved as a kid. I’ve been obsessed with dollhouses my whole life, and one of my favorite books was Little Plum by Rumer Godden, about little girls in England and their Japanese dolls and dollhouses. However, as a kid I wasn’t able to get hold of the first book about the dolls, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower. I just read it on the Internet Archive and recommend it for kids who like dollhouses, diy, learning about other countries, and learning to overcome fears and change.
Nona is sent from India to live with her cousins in England. She is miserable – the country is cold, noisy, too many children, too many cars, she doesn’t understand their games, life sucks. Then, a great-aunt sends the titular dolls, one for her and one for her cousin Belinda. Nona sees herself in these dolls, so far from their homeland. She determines to make them a proper Japanese dollhouse and in doing so, learns to overcome her fears of her new life and makes connections with her family as well as friends in her new community.
The book takes a can do attitude and describes the children actually building a dollhouse and includes the plans at the back. This could certainly be inspiring for kids who might think that they are too young to build something. Some of the discussions are certainly dated, as the descriptions of the dolls and Japanese culture and life are probably more like 1900s, but there is an admiration for the people and culture of Japan that (to me at least) keeps it from being problematic.