Tomorrow, March 3, is the Doll’s Festival in Japan. It is also called Girls’ Day or Hinamatsuri, but the Doll’s Festival is such a sweet name for a holiday! The Doll Festival is traditionally a day to wish girls happiness and good health, but the holiday’s origins aren’t quite so cheerful. The custom of displaying dolls began over one thousand years ago when it was believed that the dolls contained bad spirits. Originally, the dolls were put on a boat and sent down the river. I just can’t believe that any doll has a bad spirit! Fortunately, the dolls are now used ornamentally – the tradition is to display them on a multi-tiered platform. The Emperor and Empress are on the top level, of course, and then various members of the court are arranged below them.
One of my favorite books about contemporary life in Japan is I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi. A bright and busy book, I Live in Tokyo follows seven-year-old Mimoka’s life through the year, including the customs and special foods and festivals that accompany each month – including Doll’s Festival.
If you’re looking ahead to spring (as I have been since about January 2), check out this Publishers Weekly article about what new books children’s booksellers are looking forward to. Here’s the link:
There are so many good books on the list that I can’t wait to get my hands on. One title that particularly interests me is Sugar, the new novel by Jewell Parker Rhodes. It’s about a girl who lives on a plantation in Louisiana during the Reconstruction era. There’s also a sequel to Rita Williams-Garcia’s book One Crazy Summer – this one is called P.S. Be Eleven. I loved One Crazy Summer so much – and it’s now a part of our middle school literature program. I’m looking forward to continuing the story of Delphine and her family.
Check out the list and see what you want to add to your spring reading list…