Handing on the gift of Rumer Godden’s lost gem to my daughter.

When I was seven I was given a battered old copy of Rumer Godden’s ‘Miss Happiness and Miss Flower’ for Christmas by a girl at school. I’m thoroughly ashamed to say that I turned my nose up at being given a used book as a present, especially as I’d given her a Cadbury’s selection box, and everyone knows that chocolate is the equivalent of gold bullion to children.

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I’d never heard of Rumer Godden before, but the cover, though worn, and the illustrations inside utterly charmed me. I’ll never forget the first time I read that story. I was enchanted by these two little dolls and the house the children build for them. At the back of the book there are instructions how to make your own dolls’ house, and I remember poring over them dreaming of building one of my own. That, alas, never happened, and I forgot about the book for years and years.

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When my own daughter was born, I began to think about the toys, games and stories I’d loved as a child. I remembered the story of the little Japanese dolls but I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was called or who it was by. Occasionally, I’d google random descriptions to try and find it but with no luck, then one day, out of the blue, the title just came to me, and when I googled it, seeing the image of the cover again brought the memories flooding back.

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These are the little knitted Miss Happiness and Miss Flower dolls I made for my daughter. The kimonos were hand-sewn from fabric scraps.

I ordered a reprint of the book for my daughter, but when it arrived it didn’t have the instructions for the house in it. I thought I’d maybe imagined them, but I found images on-line from the same edition I’d owned as a child, and then I knew I’d have to get my hands on an old copy, even though it cost me a fortune! I read the story to my daughter and she loved it just as much as I did. I made her two little Japanese dolls of her own, and we’ve been collecting the materials we need to build them their own little Japanese dolls’ house.

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