Book Review: American Girls

Monthly Book Reviews

American Girls series
From Miss Sarah at Bellville

I spent most of the 1990’s in elementary school and middle school.  When I reflect upon the books that I read during that time, I remember one series that really stands out.  Lots of girls my age are familiar with the American Girls series and it has really expanded nowadays.  For those unaware with the American Girls series, it is a historical fiction series that tells the stories of various girls from different time periods in America’s history, and it usually includes six stories per girl.  The stories help the reader understand what it would be like to grow up during that time frame.  When I read the series, there were only five characters: Felicity, a colonial girl who grows up right before the American Revolutionary War; Addy, a slave who searches for freedom during the Civil War; Samantha, a Victorian orphan raised by her grandmother; Kirsten, a Scandinavian immigrant who settles west on the wild frontier; and Molly, a nine year old girl growing up during World War II.  Currently, there are even more characters which include Kaya, Caroline, Marie-Grace and Cecile, Rebecca, Kit and Julie.

American Girl Collage

My favorite American Girl was Samantha because she grew up during the early 1900’s and that always seemed like an exciting time in U.S. history.  The early 1900’s were a progressive period of time when automobiles and telephones were new luxuries.   Samantha seemed to do “girly” things like have tea with her grandmother, sew and play with dolls, yet she wasn’t afraid to get a little dirt on her dress.   In the first book Meet Samantha, Samantha Parkington lives with her wealthy grandmother since her parents died in a boating accident when she was little.  Samantha lives next door to the Ryland’s and their son Eddie who is constantly teasing Samantha.   Samantha ends up meeting the Ryland’s servant girl Nellie O’Malley and becomes friends with her.  Nellie sends all the money she earns back to her parents in the city.  Nellie tells Samantha all about the terrible conditions that she faced while working in a factory.  Mrs. Ryland eventually lets Nellie go due to her poor health.  Since Nellie is returning to the city Samantha gives Nellie her favorite doll named Lydia.

Samantha Collage2


At the end of each American Girls book is a section entitled “Looking Back” which includes authentic photos and information that relates to the time period of the story.  I always enjoyed this section of the book because I liked looking at the black and white photographs to see how people dressed, what their schools and houses looked like and how their towns looked.

The American Girls series not only have books but they also have a whole catalogue of items related to the books that you can purchase.  When I was younger I had a Samantha doll since I liked her best, and I even had an outfit that matched hers.  At the present time, there are even more items in the catalogue than when I was younger.  For example, you can order a doll to look just like you.  There are also American Girl movies which you can borrow from the library.

In New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Miami, Minneapolis, Seattle, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Kansas, Houston, Denver and Dallas, girls and their families can shop, dine, have a photo shoot and take their dolls to a salon.  There is a new American Girls store opening in Columbus at Easton Town Center later this month.  Owning a doll was nice but certainly not a must for me to enjoy the books.  Mothers and daughters could read American Girl books together and create good memories for the future.  I have talked about this series to third graders at the Bellville Elementary when they have walked over to the library with their classes.  The third grader girls seemed interested in reading the series.  Stop by or call any of the M/RCPL locations to request any of the books in the series.

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