Kira Down Under – Book Review

Happy New Year! I thought I should kick 2021 off by reading the new American Girl book “Kira Down Under” since we are mostly staying at home these days. A fictional trip to Australia sounded pretty good! Of course there will be no spoilers in this blog post.

Kira’s first book is set after the Australian wildfires that occurred at the beginning of 2020. The book also acknowledges COVID. I would say it imagines Kira being able to travel to Australia this past summer, even though I doubt that was possible. Wearing masks is mentioned and I think this is a great way for kids to see their current world reflected in fiction.

The book has glossy paper and includes color illustrations of the main characters as well as a map of the wildlife rescue center. I was glad to see this back in the AG books because illustrations are a great way for young (and older!) readers to better understand what they are reading.

Kira’s personality is “be prepared” — maybe a little too prepared because she is fearful about bad things happening. Other characters help to remind her that she can’t stop some bad things from happening, and in life we need to practice strategies for seeing the good all around us. A great message for anyone.

At the end of the book there is a non-fiction article with photos about a girl in Australia whose family has a koala rehabilitation facility. Additionally, Erin Teagan, the book’s author, has an article about her trip to Australia to gather material for the book. I was impressed she spent time at a wildlife sanctuary to really capture the work that goes on there.

I hope if you are spending some time on the couch this winter you’ll consider this book. It offers a lot for kids and adults!

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Josefina, The Doll that Started it All

Josefina getting out for some summer photos

Jen here – the other night when I was lying awake until 1:30 am, my mind wondered on to the subject of ‘how many dolls we we have anyway?’ and ‘when and where did some of them even come from?’ You can see that these sorts of questions don’t really help you fall asleep, but at least they are easier to contemplate that all that is going on in the world. Brianna and I thought it would be fun for us to recount where each doll came from and take an opportunity to get that doll out of the box and out for some current photos. So, let’s talk about Josefina, the doll that launched . . . a whole lot of other doll purchases!

1st day with Josefina

Hey, it’s Brianna! Starting in 1st grade, my mom would read me the original American Girl historical books and my favourite series was Josefina. For Halloween in 1st grade, my grandma and my mom collaborated and made me a Josefina dress and for my character fashion show in 2nd grade, I wore the same dress once again. I never had specifically wanted the doll but less than a month after the character talent show, I received the Josefina doll from my aunt in March 2013.

Grinding corn in Santa Fe wearing the homemade Josefina dress

My aunt got a Pleasant Company Josefina from the Madison American Girl Benefit Sale for her daughter, but she never became interested in the historical dolls. We bought Josefina from her for $50 (family discount).

We surprisingly don’t have a lot of Josefina’s collection. We have some of her books (I counted 3) including one of the mystery books, Secrets in the Hills, which I think I started but never finished because it was kind of scary for a 3rd grader.

We have Josefina’s accessories which we purchased after we got the doll as well as her sheepskin and blanket which my Grandma bought at the AG Outlet in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I got the horno, or Adobe Oven as a hand-me-down from my mom’s old boss and the outfit pictured above is her summer riding outfit and hat which my mom gave to me when we went to Santa Fe (near where Josefina was from) back in Summer 2013. I believe we also purchased her Holiday Outfit, which is gorgeous, in more recent years, as well.

To this day, I probably cherish Josefina the most out of all the dolls because, well, she was the doll that started all of this! Without her, I don’t think my mom or I would have become so obsessed with the brand.

Stay tuned for doll #2!

Cooling Off with Addy

It’s very hot here today. It was WELL past time to get Addy out of her Christmas dress and stockings.

How about cooling off in the 2017 purchase with purchase “World Traveler” dress? My Addy doesn’t always dress in historical clothing from her collection, but she always wears her shell necklace. In Addy’s story, the shell is a gift from her Great-Grandmother who came from Africa to the US as a slave.

The dianthus flowers match my dress!

Have you seen images of the possible 80s doll Courtney Moore? The book is released October 1. I do hope she doesn’t look like a version of Maryellen as the leaked images suggest. I will enjoy seeing the items in the collection and reading the book, but I’m not sure I’m ready for my high school years to be a “historical period”!

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July everyone! Since we have a lack of parades and fireworks this year, I thought the least I could do to get in the holiday spirit was to get Maryellen and Molly dressed in good ol’ red, white and blue.

Today we are celebrating by watching Hamilton on Disney Plus (and thinking of mega-fan Heather at Dollightful Dolls), ordering sub sandwiches, and maybe watching Eat the Nation with Padma Lakshmi which is an interesting show that looks at all of the food traditions that come from American immigrants. How are you celebrating today?

During the time at home during the pandemic I have kept Molly on my dresser, and usually Kit, in outfits that match the seasons. Every since I got Molly restrung I have been enjoying having her out. I might spring a few more blog posts on you this summer… Brianna (who will be a sophomore!!) will lend me her photo skills.

Thinking of you all fondly and hoping you are finding a balance of safety and connection in your life. 💗

Building a Collection

I wanted to pass along a tip for sourcing AG items other than eBay and Craigslist. Another way to find retired items is through Facebook groups in your community/neighborhood where moms sell kids items. I have seen outfits running around 10.00, as well as horses, AG snack stands, and of course dolls.

I asked a mom I know with a small child and she knew all the groups to join!

Ps. My last post did not allow comments, and I have no idea why. Hoping this resolves! Jen

She’s Back!

Well, that was quick!

I was glad to see dear Molly’s stay at the doll hospital was very short.

I received an email notification when she was admitted. They also sent a shipping notification with tracking when she was shipped back home. I think in total the whole process took about a week and a half (I live in Wisconsin so shipping times were short, though with AG you never know!)

I asked the doctor to leave her hair in the original braids. They honored that and sent her home with the ribbons that they would use after a hospital visit. Nice touch!

Her arms and legs are nice and tight now, and I am so glad I buckled down and sent her in!

Thanks Dr Jennie!

Godspeed Molly!

In the “use it or lose it” department, we find dear Pleasant Company Molly. She spent the better part of two decades in my sister-in-law’s closet, waiting for her daughter to develop an interest in historicals (turns out she was a Bitty fan) or to make her way to EBay (Molly, not my niece LOL!). In a happy turn of events, Molly came our way a two years ago but you haven’t seen her around much due to her very VERY loose legs. We’re talking ‘hanging by a thread’ loose.

Today was Molly’s lucky day to begin her journey to the doll hospital. I always save the inner and outer boxes when a doll comes back from the AG hospital. The packaging is perfect for the next hospital admission. I usually ship UPS, and for me it is about 11.00 UPS postage, which includes tracking and 100.00 insurance. Prices will rise if you are shipping further from Wisconsin.

I’d love to send Saige next… the hair! Oh my. I’m not sure how Brianna feels about that so we will let sleeping dolls lie.

What are your thoughts on the 98.00 doll sale today and tomorrow on the AG website Not bad! If you purchase a bit more you can probably get free shipping too. Nice way to jump on the Amazon Prime Day Action when people are in a deal shopping frame of mind.

July Arrivals

Can you believe it?  It’s Jen and Brianna here together once again with a July release review!  We usually do this from a local coffee shop but today the coffee shop is us at home while our living room is painted.  Ready?  OK!

Brianna: We tried this set out in Toronto and I liked it a lot overall. I think it’s cool that it sets up an actual ten round game for you to play against someone. I also like that it comes with accessories instead of just the bowling lane.

Jen: Good points Brianna!  I’m not a huge bowling fan, and this thing is HUGE, so it doesn’t tempt me in any way, but I think it is a new and innovative offering for AG.

Brianna: This set is so adorable. I love that it actually includes two toy hedgehogs. I’m not really sure what the green stuff in the food bowl is but overall this is super cute and I think a big hit for a lot of younger girls (and older too.)

Jen: We saw this in person in Toronto as well, and it is cute.  Hedgehogs are very on trend!

Brianna: This outfit is… interesting. It’s one of the mix and match outfits but as much as I want it to look good together, it really doesn’t. I like the overall colour scheme but I think the actual clothing items could use a rethink.

Jen: Not one of my favorite outfits.  I can’t quite decide whether this outfit says “little girl” or “big girl.”  I don’t envision this as a hot seller.

Brianna: This outfit is a no-no, for me personally. It’s very- bold, for lack of a better word. The bright ketchup red mixed with the furry grey leopard pattern is just strange.

Jen: I like the shoes?  The jacket is a little too Studio 54/Donna Summer for me.

Brianna: I love this outfit! It’s something that girl would actually wear in real life, especially with the black leggings and furry blue sweater.

Jen: I agree – this is a good seller.  The sweater does seem like something you would need to be very careful with, especially with the dolls’ thumbs.  There’s the cute shoes again!  They remind me of Superga platform tennis shoes.

Brianna: I like the tee shirt but together with the skirt it’s a little much. I probably would’ve worn something like this in 4th grade though so it might fit with the age group.

Jen: I like this outfit a lot, and would consider buying it. I like the fact that it mixes and matches with other items, and it reminds me of the Boden clothing catalog.

Brianna: I love that American Girl has expanded outside of gymnastics, ballet, and cheerleading and finally gotten a hockey set. I think a lot of younger girls will love this set not only because it’s so versatile but because it has a ton of accessories too.

Jen: I agree – though I’m more of a figure skating kind of gal, I appreciate this offering.  A lot of girls (and women) are in hockey leagues in our part of the country.  This outfit also does double duty for those with boy dolls.

Brianna: This outfit is cute and I like the lace overall but I kind of wish that American Girl would get out of its addiction to pink and maybe make this outfit a different colour like light blue.

Jen: I think this is a beautiful outfit and I love the jewel-tone magenta.  I’m not looking to buy a skating outfit, but this one is lovely.  I like the matching skate blade covers.

We hope you liked our post! Make sure to stay tuned for an upcoming one about Blaire’s items. Thanks!

~ Jen and Brianna

American Girls in Canada

We took a family vacation this month to Toronto, and I was so happily surprised to come across an Indigo Chapters store (like a big Barnes and Noble) where they have an AG boutique within the bookstore.

The store is a little bit smaller than your average GAP store in the US. They offer doll hair styling but no tea parties or create your own doll/clothes.

Hair styling station in right side, background, of photo above. No customers alas. The doll sitting poolside (or is it puddle-side?) isn’t looking too comfortable!

I saw the newly released outfits. This is a cute display.

They were featuring the summer camp items, and I was tempted by the s’mores pajamas, but they were sold out!

I hadn’t been in an AG store for about a year, so I was struck by how few historical dolls are left, and how little there is for them. No Addy? No Josefina?

… And then there were 7. . . Barely.

I did bring home Blaire’s new book, which I read quickly and have moved on to the second one already! More on that in a future post.

I really enjoyed seeing some of the current AG items, but didn’t get the sense that they were seeing big sales, at this downtown Toronto location anyway. Maplelea may still rule the Canadian market. If you would like to know more about Maplelea and Canadian dolls, visit this blog post over on Hannah’s Dolls.

Jen

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July to my US friends! I hope you have time today to do some simple, joyful things. Decorating a bike, like Josefina, is pretty awesome. I enjoy parades and definitely glo-necklaces to wear to the fireworks! How about you?

Josefina is wearing a skirt and vest sewed by my mom (aka Grandma) and Saige’s t-shirt while she decorates her scooter.