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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Tradition versus change: Candelight for Rebecca and Felicity Learns a lesson

So I was reading Felicity Learns a Lesson and one of the central plot points is whether or net Felicity should drink tea. It being 1774, Felicity's father becomes a patriot and she wants to be loyal to her father, but she takes tea lessons with Elizabeth and her older sister Annabelle Coles, and their family is loyalist. Does she drink the tea at lessons or not? This reminded me of another conflict in Rebecca's third book, Candlelight for Rebecca, in which Rebecca's class is making Christmas wreaths for decorations, but Rebecca's family is Jewish and celebrates Hanukkah. Does Rebecca make the decorations with the class, and if she does what will her family think?

Making connections like these across the books is really important in giving the books educational values. Connections like these, if made early on, will help children become more successful in future history classes. It emphasizes that, even though these two stories are of different girls from different times and cultures, this theme of keeping tradition in the face of change stays consistent throughout history. 

As an added bonus, here's a little something cool from a very old American Girl book.
I am so sorry for how blurry this is, it's late at night and I'm lazy.

This is a chart from a book called "Five Plays" published by Pleasant company in the early 1990s as a resource for teachers in teaching the american girl stories. On the front inside cover, there's this chart which allows you to see how the books all come together and why they were all written with the same title stems. If you read straight down, you can see changes across a specific era, but if you read from left to right, all the Meet, Learns a lesson, etc. then you can analyze broad changes across history. How cool! This system [sadly broken by Marie Grace and Cecile along with various other changes to the company/publishing patterns] was built to teach historical thinking skills.

The point being, that connections is what history should be about. When we think of a history class, we need to think of how all the stories connect to each other, and Pleasant Rowland along with countless authors and illustrators did an absolutely fantastic job of encouraging that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Samantha's Speech on Progress In America, analyzed

Samantha Parkington is one of the most influential American Girl characters in the history of the brand. She's one of the first and one of the most remembered, but an often overlooked quality is her ability to influence adults despite being a child during the 1900s.

As an example of this, let's look at Samantha's speech on Progress In America during her second book, Samantha Learns a Lesson [Beforever Manners and Mischief a Samantha Classic 1]
Now, in the book there's actually two speeches, one she does at school and then the one she delivers to the Mount Bedford Ladies Club, we'll be focusing on the second one as that is where the final version of the speech is.

"Americans are very proud of being modern, we are proud of the machines in our factories because they make so many new things for us. But Americans are proud of being truthful, too. If we were truthful we would say that the factory machines make things fast and cheap, but they are dangerous, too. They can hurt children who work in the factories. The machines can break their arms. They can cut off their fingers. They can make children sick. And children who work in factories don't have time to play or go to school. They are too tired.
If our factories can hurt children, then we have not made good progress in America, and I believe Americans want to be good. I believe we want to be kind. And if we are kind, I believe we will take care of the children. Then we can truly be proud of our factories and our progress."
[Abridged from Samantha Learns a Lesson]

Alright, so it's not any adult speech obviously, it's fairly simple and short because its audience is 8 year old kids. But, it's still powerful and very strong in its message, here's why:

1.Samantha's speech is incredibly concise, there is absolutely no sugarcoating and no stepping around an 'elephant in the room'. Partly this is because of Samantha's personality, but it works in the speech's favor as it gives her message a quick start, getting rid of the opportunity for any adults to tune her out before she can begin talking about her main point.
2.The author of the Samantha books, Susan S. Adler, deserves credit for the varied sentence structure within Samantha's speech that makes her message really hit home. The short sentences of "The machines can break their arms. They can cut off their fingers" each conjure up mental images of themselves. This gives power to Samantha's message as it creates a sense of despair about the overall situation, tugging on heartstrings and making people eager to listen for a resolution.
3.Finally, Samantha makes a personal connection with the audience at the end of her speech. She turns the focus from herself and her opinions to the "we" of America. When she says "I believe Americans want to be good. I believe we want to be kind." she's really emphasizing that this isn't just her opinion on one subject, but that it's an issue for everyone to be considering.

Now, how does this relate to today?
Today America is much better than in the 20th century. We have child labor laws and factory safety and fire codes and all sorts of things to keep us safe. However, Samantha's message on the dangers of child labor and the notion of being truthful about the state of progress can now be applied to other developing countries. While the speech is American focused, We can see the same concept all around the world when factories collapse or set on fire. There are also still plenty of children working in factories; they may not live in America anymore, but the dangers Samantha talks about are the same no matter where they are, and they still need our help. It is time for Americans to take Samantha's message further than ever, thereby continuing our progress and helping other countries do the same.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

American girl #24 hairstyle and photos

This is american girl #24 (Leslie) in the print corduroy dress, melody's play outfit shoes and a pink cuff braclet.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The new American Girl Place T-shirts

There doesn't seem to be a lot of photos on the internet showcasing the newest AGP t-shirts, so I am finally putting up my review of these 2 AGP Nashville shirts.
How did I get them? My mom picked them up for me on a business trip.

Left to right: Anna Clare with the newer t-shirt,
Lindsey with the newer t-shirt and Marie Grace with the older t-shirt
The shirts to be honest haven't changed that much in terms of construction. They still Velcro in the back and fit the same way. One thing I do notice though is that the binding used for the neck and shoulders (binding is the piece of fabric that goes over the neck and sleeve edges to cover up the raw edges) is way thicker/a little bigger than usual. 

Now, Do I like these shirts?
Kind of. It is nice to not see pink or red for the first time in a while, but I don't like how small the name of the store is. You could practically use whiteout on it and just have a plain t-shirt. Also, these shirts are white so they will show more of the cloth torso, and really just look thinner even if they're as thick as the old one. I do like them (don't get me wrong) but I would be perfectly fine if they switched over to the older designs.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Chicago trip 2016: Updates and more

I don't know how many people still read this blog anymore, or watch my YouTube... I'm sort of getting an opportunity to start over (if you consider it a positive light). It's weird though, i feel as though I lost all my passion for YouTube and now I only watch videos and I never make any. I don't know if that's because I'm out of ideas, or it's just not fun anymore. (I always feel like these types of posts are more for the person writing them to figure out feelings than the audience to understand them.)

Either way, the real meat of the post
June 13-15 I will be in Chicago for Brickworld and a trip to American girl Place. I have no idea what exact date and time I will be at either place, but will be sure to post that information when I get it.

And now, Photos:
Some of the shopkins I picked up at the Swapkins Event last week.

I made this dress out of duct tape.
It's not finished but it looks ok right now.

Here's a photo of Marie Grace's "dutch braids".

Lego chicken suit guy and Lego Panda suit guy
 are now best friends.

Here's an "artsy"photo of Julie's bed, which my sister generously gave
me for my birthday.

More stuff will come soon

Friday, April 8, 2016

RE: Our Dolls,Ourselves?

Today I'll be looking at an article written on The New Yorker written in 2013 by Adrienne Raphel about American Girl. The article covers the past and present of American girl but mainly touches on the issue of AG moving away from their past and into what it is now. I will be doing this by giving both a summary of each paragraph and then my own thoughts on the entire paragraph. The post is quite lengthy, and I apologize.

The first paragraph tells of the author's first and only doll, Samantha who was gifted to her by her grandmother when she was five. The doll of course was very special and  the author loved her to death. One quote I wold like to draw attention to is this "I brushed her hair with a special wire brush that came with her". This is a bit unclear as to whether the brush came with the doll, or maybe the author got a brush with her. But it almost confuses me because the dolls have never come with brushes,yet I don't know if Pleasant Company ever sold any type of brushes. But overall, ok,great you had Samantha.

The next paragraph tells of another aspect of American Girl, friends with AG. She talks about how the people owned dolls that reflected their personality, and also just how much these girls wanted to become their dolls. One girl even faked having bad vision just so she could get glasses like Molly. (this is where parents need to draw the line and have a talk with their children about stuff like that) I do agree with this, well marginally. I never had any friends besides my younger sister that had AG dolls, but kids do connect well over their toys, and that can always be how the next long-lasting friendship starts.

The third paragraph is really just explaining that Molly&Emily will be archived. My thought: *tear*

The fourth paragraph references another article from The Atlantic about how girls actually like the discontinued dolls and how the stories for the dolls have gotten watered down overtime. I agree with the first part being that some girls do like the discontinued dolls, but I overly agree with the watered down story-lines. I guess AG wanted to avoid having "scary" stories like Addy's or controversial stories like Gwen's.

The fifth paragraph just tells about the creation of American girl in 1986, and how they started as books and then became dolls.

The sixth paragraph tells about the status of American Girl today, how many dolls they've sold,the stores,etc. It also mentions that AG had sales that rose by 14% in the second half of 2013. This means that Saige was a really popular doll, and I'm surprised we haven't had any other GOTY,MAG or even historical dolls that mimic her.

The seventh paragraph contrasts Pleasant Company, referring to how the modern line has changed overtime. It's really all just details.

The eighth paragraph tells about just how expensive the dolls are. Not only that, but the "big-ticket items" are expensive too. Not going to lie, this is very true. The lowest price of anything at American Girl (I think, and picking from available products) goes to the sparkly hair pick at $6 USD. (I can say USD now because AG has opened stores in Canada and Mexico.

The ninth paragraph talks about the launch of InnerstarU and quotes spokeswoman Julia Parks of American girl. Notable quotes include "Consistent with how books bring our historical characters to life, Innerstar University allows us to build a bridge between the contemporary doll a girl owns and the online world where she is spending more time,” Julie Parks, the spokesperson, said. " (The New Yorker) This is actually genius, notice the part where it says "the online world where she is spending more time". It's obvious, girls are on the computer more these days, so why not put the doll on the computer? Of course then you may ask why they discontinued InnerstarU. Well, my theories include that it 1)got old:girls just weren't caring about it anymore 2) required too much maintenance 3)more girls are playing on ipads and phones, not necessarily on the computer.

The tenth paragraph tells about the author's experience with the demo-site of InnerstarU, where you could look around at a few activities, but not experience the whole site. One key quote from the author says "Shelby directed me to the “Real Spirit Center” so I could do yoga with a doll avatar. To play doll yoga, you slowly trace your mouse over the doll as she goes through sun salutations. It’s as exciting as it sounds." (Raphel) Now, yeah sure that game was boring, but I'm going to stick up for a moment for the site, as other games, such as the diving or cheer leading game were way more entertaining, and that it was kind of a biased move just to play one game and be done with it. On the other hand, at least she's done her research.

The eleventh paragraph just makes that age-old argument that Pleasant Company is better than Mattel. Of course, that's a story for another day. One quote I would like to draw attention to is this one by Robin Bernstein, a Harvard University Professor and cultural historian. "You buy yourself,” Robin Bernstein, a Harvard University professor and cultural historian, told me. “It’s all about you, you, you.” Instead of you becoming your doll, your doll becomes you." (The New Yorker) Now, I have no idea why she just seems to throw this random person into the article. I mean, my only guess is that this is the guy that works for American Girl. If that's the case, she should have specified that. But I do like that last part "your doll becomes you" because that was kind of the point of InnerstarU.

The twelfth and final paragraph (congratulations if you've almost read the whole thing)  is a conclusion where the author almost shakes her head and says "But with characters coming out and disappearing each year, American Girl’s emphasis is on expanding your network of friends, rather than deepening your relationship with one doll and her world—and, in turn, with the world." (Raphel) This quote is rather interesting, let me give my thoughts on each part. "Characters coming out and disappearing each year" well- I mean it's not... yeah, it does suck the way they do it. "Emphasis on expanding your network of friends rather than deepening your relationship with one doll and her world" OK, I'm going to say this now. I don't fully agree with this. The new Truly Me line really promotes the whole " be yourself" thing, and there is still emphasis on the stories.

As a final note, the article has good and bad points, but does a nice job of portraying American Girl to the public. If you read this whole thing, congratulations! Also, what articles would you like me to respond to next.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Questions Answered! From the American Girl Facebook page

I don't go on Facebook regularly. With one exception... the AG facebook page. It keeps pulling me in as I sift through the posts complaining about made in china dolls or lack of diversity;to the cute posts about girls who enjoy AG, and the like. However, it is terrible when I see a question so common that someone doesn't get an answer to. So today, we'll be answering some of the top questions from AG's comments on their Facebook page.

1. What brush do use on Molly?- Lara Alicia Kropf
Brushes are pretty much universal and can be used on almost any doll...
Straight hair- Brush
Wavy hair(Saige,Lea,Samantha,Molly,etc.)- Combination of brush and finger curling.
Extremely Curly hair- hair pick/finger curling

2. Dear American girl doll how do you order a american girl cancer doll and can you plz tell me all the eyes colors and skins colors and how much plz and thank you!!!!!!!!!!- From Shannon Horn

Dolls Without hair are avalible only through calling American Girl. (Why they don't sell them like the other dolls, I don't know. And you would be correct in saying that's not fair) They cost $115, just like all the other dolls (again... Why?) and come with a few (notice I said a few) eye/skin tone combinations. It is also possible to send your doll with hair to the doll hospital in trade for a doll without hair.

3. Are some of the threads from the wig cap supposed to show and are there supposed to be very short tufts of hair near the wig cap like when you put her hair in pigtails?- From Christopher Elyse Riner

YES! Absolutely, those short hairs cover the scalp when the hair is parted (pigtails,2 braids,etc) to make sure the scalp doesn't show. They ARE NOT a defect and are SUPPOSED to be there! (sorry for all the caps, I just have to stress how important it is that people understand this)

Those are some of the most recent questions I saw, and I hope this helps you!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Can You Bring a Fake American Girl Doll to the American Girl Doll Store?

On March 16th,2007 a blogpost surfaced on the internet that caused one of the the worst American Girl Scandals in history. The post, titled "Fake,out" and written by the mother of Etta. In a form of satire, Etta's mom tells he story of their trip to the American Girl Place and how one of the stylists was completely disrespectful to Etta's off-brand doll, refusing to restyle the doll's hair. Now of course that was completely disrespectful of the employee, and I hope that person was terminated, but the article sparked the big question. CAN you bring a "fake" American Girl Doll to the store?
As a DISCLAIMER, I use quotations around the word fake because they are technically off-brand dolls. Many American Girl collectors also have some "fake" dolls, and they are well represented in the collecting community.

If you mean bring an 18" doll that is not produced by Mattel into the store premises, absolutely! There's no problem with carrying your OG,Journey Girl or My life doll into the store to look around. Of course what people forget is that STORES VARY. One store may have a terrible employee while another may have great employees.  The problem arises when talking about the SERVICES offered at the store.

Services currently (2016) offered at the American Girl Store
1.Truly me Design Studio (LA,NY and Chicago stores only.)
2. Ear piercing
3. Haristyling/other packages at the salon.
4. social aspect

Let's look at these one by one

Truly Me Design Studio
New for 2016, this activity allows girls to "design" their own clothes or doll carriers from a selection of pre-disposed pieces and patterns. This can be used by anyone as the materials printed will be sized for 18" American Girl Dolls

Ear piercing
American Girl specifically states on their website "For 18" dolls only" however, off-brand dolls are not allowed to have their ears pierced... I think. If this were true (which it most likely is) I would have to guess it is because of the machines used to pierce doll ears. Now that the website doesn't say anything about it, something that should be well known is being hidden for no good reason.

Hairstyling/other packages
Honestly, this varies by store. No specific rule outlaws off-brand dolls. And yet, as we see here, some people have very different ideas about how to handle this. My personal opinion: All dolls are welcome into the American Girl store, and every doll should be able to have it's hair styled, American Girl or not.

4.Social Aspect
What's even worse than knowing the doll you have is "fake? Having everyone call it out. The sad part is, an off-brand doll is likely to be called "fake" by both little girls who don't know about other doll brands, or mean mothers who happen to support their daughter's costly obsession. If you would like to take your off-brand doll to the store, be prepared for this. Or if your daughter/son is taking their off-brand doll, PLEASE, tell them it's an off-brand doll, and tell them exactly what that means.

Alternate Options for ear piercing
Not being able to get your doll's ears pierced may be sad, but there's a better way to go about it.
1. Our generation ear piercing
Our Generation recently held an ear-piercing event at most Target stores! They also began selling a doll that included pirced ears! (of course it was only a one-time event. And only for Our Generation dolls)
Read the full story at Living A Doll's Life
2. DIY ear piercing
Plenty of tutorials are on YouTube that allow you to do a DIY ear piercing at home. The best thing about this is, any doll can now wear HUMAN EARRINGS! However, this may void the warranty on some dolls, such as American Girl Dolls, which could lead to some policy issues, so be careful.

As a final note
The blogpost amassed a total of 1,040 comments, but has since fallen into the archives of AG's scandals. (well, maybe scandals is over exaggerating) I do recognize my bias as an owner of 7 American Girl Dolls myself. I hope this post has helped clear up all the answers to this very simple complicated question.