Rumer Godden’s Miss Happiness and Miss Flower introduces young readers to Japanese culture. The short novel focuses on Nona, a British girl who was born in India and whose father has sent her to live with relatives and get an education. Living with her aunt, uncle and three cousins, Nona feels lonely and out of place as a newcomer. The traffic, school, her natural introversion and her bratty cousin Belinda make life tough. It’s not till the children receive a package from an old aunt in America that things look bright for Nona. Her aunt has sent the children two Japanese dolls. This gift sets Nona on a quest to create a Japanese doll house. Her endeavor leads to friendship, creativity, and purpose.
The author provides clear explanations of Japanese culture and defines words young readers probably don’t know. The style is old fashioned. I was surprised that it was written in 1961. The narrator’s tone is like a kind, old aunt or grandmother.