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Miss Happiness and Miss Flower

Miss Happiness and Miss Flower

4.5 2
by Rumer Godden, Gary Blythe

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England is the last place Nona Fells wants to be. No one asked her if she wanted to leave sunny India to live in a chilly English village with her aunt's family — and her cousin, Belinda, just hates her! But when two dainty Japanese dolls arrive at Nona's doorstep, everything begins to change. Like Nona, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower are lonely and homesick, so


England is the last place Nona Fells wants to be. No one asked her if she wanted to leave sunny India to live in a chilly English village with her aunt's family — and her cousin, Belinda, just hates her! But when two dainty Japanese dolls arrive at Nona's doorstep, everything begins to change. Like Nona, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower are lonely and homesick, so Nona decides to build them their own traditional Japanese house. Over time, not only does Nona create a home for the dolls, but one for herself as well.

Originally published in 1961, Rumer Godden's classic story of friendship and being part of a family is now back in print for a new generation of readers to cherish.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Transplanted from India to England, eight-year-old Nona Fells finds comfort in two Japanese dolls sent to her by her grandmother in Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden, first published in 1961. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Eight-year-old Nona Fells was not asked if she wanted to move from India to England. Living with her cousins in a strange land with strange customs, Nona is desperately homesick. When a package arrives from San Francisco, two Japanese dolls¾Miss Happiness and Miss Flower¾unexpectedly provide Nona with the cure for her unhappiness. Charmed by these two dolls, Nona decides to build a proper Japanese dollhouse for them. With the help of a crotchety old bookseller, a friend at school, and her cousins, Nona not only learns about Japanese culture, but also begins to make friends and adjust to her new life. Just when the house is ready for the dolls to move in, Nona's younger cousin Belinda refuses to let Nona put Miss Flower in the house. Will jealousy ruin all of Nona's hard work? Through kindness and understanding, Nona makes a happy home for her dolls and for herself. Included in this quick, enchanting story are end notes on Japanese culture and detailed plans for the Japanese dollhouse. This is a simple introduction to another culture that uses a common theme—homesickness¾to build bridges between countries and people. 2002 (orig. 1960), HarperTrophy/HarperCollins,
— Leah Hanson

Product Details

Pan Macmillan
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 7 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Hey were two little Japanese dolls, only about five inches high. Their faces and hands were made of white plaster, their bodies of rag, which meant they could bow most beautifully -- and Japanese people bow a great deal. Their eyes were slits of black glass and they had delicate plaster noses and red-painted mouths. Their hair was real, black and straight and cut in a fringe. They were exactly alike except that Miss Flower was a little taller and thinner, while Miss Happiness's cheeks were fatter and her red mouth was painted in a smile.

They wore thin cotton kimonos -- a kimono is like a dressing-gown with wide-cut sleeves-and they each had a wide sash high up under their arms which was folded over into a heavy pad at the back.

Miss Happiness had a red kimono patterned with chrysanthemums, Miss Flower's was blue with a pattern of cherry blossom; both their sashes were pink and on their feet they had painted white socks and painted sandals with a V-shaped strap across the toes.

They were not new: Miss Flower had a chip out of one ear, her pretty kimono was torn and the paint had come off one of Miss Happiness's shoes. I do not know where they had been all their lives, but when this story begins they had been wrapped in cotton wool and tissue paper, packed in a wooden box and tied with red and white string, wrapped again in brown paper, labelled and stamped and sent all the way from San Francisco in America to England. I do not think they had been asked if they wanted to come-dolls are not asked.

"Where are we now?" asked Miss Flower. "Is it another country?"

"I think it is," said Miss Happiness.

"It's strange andcold. I can feel it through the box," said Miss Flower, and she cried, "No one will understand us or know what we want. Oh, no one will ever understand us again!"

But Miss Happiness was more hopeful and more brave. "I think they will," she said.

"How will they?"

"Because there will be some little girl who is clever and kind."

"Will there be?" asked Miss Flower longingly.


"Why will there be?"

"Because there always has been," said Miss Happiness.

All the same Miss Flower gave a doll shiver, which means she felt as if she shivered though it could not be seen. Miss Flower was always frightened; perhaps the child who made the chip in her ear had been rough. "I wish we had not come," said Miss Flower.

Miss Happiness sighed and said, "We were not asked."

Children are not asked either. No one had asked Nona Fell if she wanted to be sent from India to live with her uncle and aunt in England. Everyone had told her she would like it, but "I don't like it at all," said Nona.

"Nona is a good name for her," said her youngest cousin, Belinda. "All she does is to say No, no, no, all the time."

With her dark hair and eyes, her thinness, and her skin that was pale and yellow from living so long in the heat, Nona looked a stranger among her pink-cheeked, fair-haired cousins. There were three of them: Anne, who was fourteen, slim and tall; Tom, who was eleven, with freckles; and Belinda, who was a rough tough little girl of seven.

Nona was eight. Her mother had died when she was a baby and she had been brought up by an old Ayah -- an Ayah is an Indian nurse -- on her father's tea garden, Coimbatore in Southern India. It had been hot in Coimbatore, the sun had shone almost every day; there had been bright flowers and fruit, kind brown people and lots of animals. Here it was winter and Nona was always cold. Her cousins laughed at her clothes; it was no wonder, for they had been chosen by old Ayah who had no idea what English children wore in England, and Nona had a stiff red velvet dress, white socks, black strap shoes and silver bangles. They laughed at the way she spoke English, which was no wonder either, for she talked in a sing-song voice like Ayah.

She did not like the food; living in a hot country does not make one hungry and she had not seen porridge, or puddings, or sausages, or buns before, and "No thank you," said Nona. She said "No thank you- too when anyone asked her to go out for she had never seen so many buses and cars, vans and bicycles; they went so fast it made her dizzy. She said "No thank you" when her cousins asked her to play; there had been no other English boys and girls in Coimbatore and she had never ridden a bicycle, or roller-skated, or played ping-pong, or rounders, or hide-and-seek, or even card games like Snap or Beggar-my-neighbour. All she did was to sit and read in a corner or stand by the window and shiver. "And cry," said Belinda. "Cry, baby, cry."

"Belinda, be kind," said Nona's aunt, who was Belinda's mother. Nona called her Mother too. "Be kind. We must all help her to settle down."

I "I don't want her to settle down," said Belinda.

All through Christmas Nona was unhappy and when Christmas was over it was no better. She stood by the window and ran her bangles up and down her wrist, up and down and round and round. They were thin and of Indian silver; she had had them since she was almost a baby and to feel them made her seem closer to Coimbatore.

"Come to the park, Nona. We're going to skate."

"No thank you."

"I'm going to the shops, Nona. Come along."

"No thank you."

"Have some of this nice hot toast."

"No thank you."

Miss Happiness and Miss Flower. Copyright © by Rumer Godden. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Rumer Godden was one of the UK's most distinguished authors. She wrote many well-known and much-loved books for both adults and children, including The Story of Holly & Ivy and The Dolls' House. Her children's novel The Diddakoi won the Whitbread Children's Book Award in 1972. She was awarded an OBE in 1993 and died in 1998, aged 90. Gary Blythe is an illustrator whose works include Miss Happiness and Miss Flower.

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Miss Happiness and Miss Flower 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I came from two cultures and thoroughly enjoyed this story. So pleased to see it re-released again in print! I have despaired of ever finding this enchanting story that still enthralls me even 40 years later. I would like to see a movie or animated feature (DISNEY, perhaps?) done of this timeless story. The story draws one's imagination and the reader can almost feel and experience every emotion through a doll's perspective...yes, I DO recommend this book most highly-- one must read it for themselves. A story one can share with one's daughters or grandchildren.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dolls and doll houses are the pleasant territory of Rumer Godden that I most remember from my childhood reading, and this one does not disappoint. I hadn't heard of it, but now here it is in a new reprint. Miss Happiness and Miss Flower cheer the homesick life of a little girl who comes from India to live with her cousins and go to school in England. Besides a cure for Nona's homesickness, the building of the doll house in authentic Japanese fashion (plans included in the book!) provides the occasion for working out some childish but complex feelings of jealousy on the part of the youngest cousin, Belinda. I liked the intrigue of the jealous little girl intertwining with the homesick one, and found the dynamic of their developing friendship complex and worth spending time reading. This could offer some points of discussion for 3/4 grade children if you are a teacher with a book discussion group. Beautifully crafted fiction that isn't just for girls -- the older boy Tom makes the doll house, and he is portrayed as an enviable carpenter and model builder.