on 5 December 2002
I read this book when I was about six, and was absolutely entranced by it. The descriptions are beautiful, and since then I have reread the book about twenty times. Literally. All ages can enjoy the book, and it is also informative, teaching children about Japanese culture.
The book is informative, beautifully written, and heartwarming. Every child deserves a copy of it.
on 12 July 2003
This is a magical book for all girls of all ages. Based on the classic tale of a stranger being forced to live with distant relatives and not liking one bit the new arrangements. Gradullay, through, her interest and enthusiasm about making a Japanese doll house she wins everyone round and ends up loving her new life. What really makes this story stand out is the information and detail and love of a different culture - Japan - that really shines through, making it a classic for everyone who has ever read it. The only shame is it is out of print!
on 15 February 2010
I read this book nearly 40 years ago - one of the first books I ever chose myself - and was enchanted. I was frankly nervous about buying this for fear of being disappointed at it not living up to my memory of it. I have just read it to my 6 year old daughter, and was astonished that a book that was written over half a century ago would still work the same magic. The use of language is masterful, and the tale of a child trying to come to terms with unfamiliar surroundings is painfully bittersweet. If only everything that I read at bedtime were so beautifully written and charming - I cannot recommend this highly enough!
on 7 February 2007
My mum read this to me as a child, and I have revisited it with my own 6 year old. It is wonderful, and my daughter loved it so much she is now reading it for herself. The characters are all beautifully drawn. Rumer Godden captures Nona's homesickness, and the gentle story of how Nona grows to settle into her new home through creating a home for the Japanese dolls is told with much sensitivity. I had forgotten how mean Belinda was, but of course, she too learns a lesson through the dolls. It is also a lovely introduction to Japanese culture for both children and adults.
on 25 February 2011
I vividly remembered reading this book in a dusty primary school classroom and small aspects of the plot stuck with me, though until recently I couldn't recollect the name of it, which was so frustrating! Recently I discovered it and happily re-read it; the memories came flooding back and now, more than fifteen years later (eek!), I'm still stuck by what a beautiful piece of fiction this is. This is a book I'd love to read to my own (future!) children some day! That alone, makes this book a keeper.
"Miss Happiness and Miss Flower" is the story of Nona, a young girl who moves from India to live with her aunt, uncle and cousins, distant relatives who she barely knows. Poor Nona is finding it hard to fit in- Britain is so strange and she is incredibly homesick. Her cousin Belinda also isn't very welcoming which makes Nona very sad. One day a parcel arrives in the post addressed to her and her cousin Belinda from their great aunt, and inside are two beautiful Japanese dolls. It is through these dolls that Nona gradually gets over her homesickness, for she knows the dolls must be homesick too. She researches their country and eventually builds them a Japanese house with the help of her new family and friends- learning a little bit about Japanese culture in the process.
As I've said, this is a wonderful little book and is so sweetly inspiring as Nona sets about making the house for her new friends, going so far as to stage the tiny table with Japanese meals and dolls house bowls (no plates!) filled with threads and grass to look like rice and bamboo. The details and authenticity created around the house itself sound so wonderful and is truly heart-warming. Also, at times we hear the inner voices of Miss Happiness and Miss Flower as they `wish' for good things to happen which adds a lovely dimension to the tale.
The plot of this novel is simple but it just works so wonderfully and is able to put across something of a message as well as teaching the reader a bit about Japan. I would say that it is more of a book targeted at little girls than boys, but most young children are sure to enjoy this being read aloud to them tremendously- to give them a small glimpse into another world. Older children may be inspired to learn a bit more about Japan- and the bits at the end of the book that reveal a little bit more about Japanese culture could prove very useful to them.
Buy this, read it to your children and love it yourself too. You won't be disappointed.
on 15 April 2009
I have loved this story since first reading it as a child. I have just bought a copy to give to my ten year old Goddaughter as she, like me, loves dollshouses. But there is much more to this story, a story of a little girl learning about life in the new country she has moved to. I hope that this will help my little girl as well, as she has just moved countries. I have re-read it before sending it. It is beautifully written, a delight to read.
on 24 March 2014
I read this as a child, several times. I remember going to the library and getting it out at least three times. Having returned from Japan recently, I was reminded of how enchanted I was by this story. Just delightful.
on 8 June 2012
This is truly a wonderful book, it touches on loneliness, sibling rivalry, feelings of being an outsider, and the importance of leaving children to work out answers for themselves. It isn't just for girls - there is Tom who makes the house for his cousin, any child interested in model building might like it too, also for the notes at the back which go into detail for those who are interested about the way the house was built and Japanese culture. The only other point I wanted to make is that Rumer Godden also wrote "Little Plum", also brilliant and about the same children, where Belinda has a more central role. A child who likes Miss Happiness and Miss Flower would be deprived not to read Little Plum too...
It's so sad that both these books are out of print. I really hope that generations of children to come will be handed battered copies.
on 18 March 2016
Wonderful that this book has been recently reprinted, and so is available to a whole new set of children. A beautiful, down-to-earth, and encouraging story where the arrival of two small Japanese dolls into the lives of two little girls brings about changes in each child, one a lonely homesick anxious girl, the other a rough-and-tumble confident impulsive girl. The journey through jealousy and unkindness to rapport and real caring is feelingly described in such a warm and simple way that every young reader will feel welcomed and accepted and feel companioned in their own struggle with the strong feelings which surge within us all. Do also read the sequel, "Little Plum", a magnificent further unfolding of the story of these two little girls and the two small dolls.
on 19 February 2015
I first read this book over forty five years ago and had forgotten how intriguing it was then; it still invokes powerful imagery of Japan and being a child- I'm certain a new reader would find it just as captivating