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American Girls [and Guys] Need to Garden

Since January of 2017, our community has come a long way toward creating an American Girl Doll Club that is becoming an integral part of many of our girls’ lives.Because several of the mothers have been generous with their time, we are teaching tons of girls how to sew. Most of the girls have completed the sewing of a vest for their dolls, and we have established the reality that our Doll Club for American Girls Is A No-Bullying Zone! That is quite a resume for two months of club time.

We have had such a huge response from the girls who have wanted to participate that we have broken the club into two groups–a younger group of girls and an older group of girls.

The next couple of weeks, we’ll take a spring break from the American Girl Doll Club, but on April 28th, both of the groups will meet together–as well as any other kids in our community–to celebrate Arbor Day.

Every kid needs nature, and this year, Linwood Library is creating a Children’s Garden. On April 28th, 2017, every kid in our community is invited to celebrate Arbor Day by bringing a perennial flower and by planting it into our Children’s Garden. We’ll also paint rocks and have a wiener roast, but the primary purpose of the gathering is to join hands, as a community of kids, to create a place to watch nature grow.

Before everyone begins to feel sad that the American Girl Doll Club will not meet on April 28, 2017, I want to remind them that the American Girl Doll Company loves gardens and that several American Girl Doll Gardening Outfits have been created throughout the years. On April 28, 2017, we’ll have a different kind of club meeting–one in which we celebrate the child’s need for nature and for gardening.

It is a proven fact that Kids Need to Touch Nature.

And Kids Need to Hear Nature.

And Kids Need to Smell Nature.

In short, Kids Need to Be Outside, and They Need to Play Outside.

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I am an avid gardener. I garden to create Zen-like spaces to sit in meditative-like silences and to do nothing more than heal from the damages of trying to navigate through life, and kids need similar periods of meditative silence.

But I also garden because the act of gardening itself is healing. I have read that handling dirt supports good health–that the dirt involved in gardening has a healing quality.

Kids Need to Dig in the Dirt.

And I can guarantee that my emotional spirit is improved by the act of gardening.

Kids Need to Experience the Wonder of Working in a Garden.

As I get older, I also need more and more of the exercise that gardening provides me, but my need for gardening stems back to my childhood. My dad was an avid gardener and his mother, my grandmother was, too.

My childhood home was almost directly behind my grandmother’s house, and at least once daily, I would walk across the lawns from my house to my grandmother’s house. During gardening season, that meant walking through my grandmother’s massive flower, vegetable, and fruit gardens. I would enter through the back door, and my grandmother’s gardening closet was just inside that door.  I used to love to open that closet door and to allow nature and my grandmother, and my grandmother’s garden to reach out and embrace me:

grandmascloset

Grandma’s Closet
by Jacki Kellum

The bonnet’s at the very top
The duster’s down below.
Fancy flowers are drying still,
They’re hanging in a row.

Breathe the sunshine, weeds, and dirt,
Catch the seeds from Grandma’s skirt,
Store them in your summer shirt,
Plant them, let them grow.

© Jacki Kellum November 24, 2015

My grandparents not only owned their own home, they also owned the string of houses next to them.  Keep in mind that this was a rural community, and my grandparents’ houses had immense lots.  The people who rented had nice yards, but my grandmother gardened the backs of all of the yards that my grandparents owned, and on the absolute back of the land, my grandmother planted a glorious stand of hollyhocks.

There was an alley behind the hollyhocks and my street was behind the hollyhocks.  During the summers, I used to walk through the alley, into the towering stand of hollyhocks, and through my grandmother’s flower garden–and finally, to her house.  As soon as I passed beneath the sheltering arms of the hollyhocks, I felt safe and protected. It was a magnificent pilgrimage, and even today as I retrace those steps, my spirit is lifted.

Certainly, as I labor to create my own garden now, my main ambition must be that of holding on to my grandmother’s garden, my grandmother, and my own childhood.  Actually, there could be no better reason at all, but research proves that there are even more healing benefits to gardening than that.

I like the fact that the American Girl Doll Makers seek to encourage more from girls than the buying of expensive toys. They seek to encourage quality reading. They seek to teach history and cultures, and the also promote the learning of cooking, art, and gardening, too.

Many childhood agencies are conducting research into the need for providing avenues for outdoor play. Several agencies, including Disney and the National Wildlife Foundation, are contributors to those studies.

Horticulture is recognized as an authentic type of therapy. Here is what the Horticulture Therapy Association says about the healing power of gardening:

“Horticultural therapy techniques are employed to assist participants to learn new skills or regain those that are lost. Horticultural therapy helps improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills, and socialization. In physical rehabilitation, horticultural therapy can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance, and endurance. In vocational horticultural therapy settings, people learn to work independently, problem solve, and follow directions.” Read More Here

For several years, I have worked part-time as the Children’s Librarian in my community. For at least ten of those years, I have wanted to create a children’s garden. This year, I have finally received the go-ahead nod of approval, and we will begin tilling our garden this week. April 28th is Arbor Day, and we are having a huge Arbor Day party for our kids. Every child is asked to bring a perennial flower to plant in our garden, a spot from which they can watch their own plant grow. There is something magical about watching nature work through the stages of its own growth cycles, and that will be one of the benefits of creating a garden for our community’s children. We also hope to grow fruits and vegetables in our children’s garden, and we want to cook what we grow with our children. In summary, we want our community’s children to actualize the benefits of growing with and through nature.

I hear increasing reports of the problems that children are having in school. Children have problems with ADHD, problems with autism, problems with depression, and they are displaying an excessive amount of anger and hostility. On the other hand, I read that children are spending less and less time outdoors and are spending an increasingly large amount of time inside, watching television, playing video games, etc. Research proves that children spend a fraction of the time playing outdoors that their parents did, and other research shows that children are simultaneously dealing with increasingly large problems with obesity, depression, and other emotional issues. Further research proves that the issues are connected. The well-being of children is adversely affected by too much time indoors and not enough time outdoors. Encouraging children to garden can help resolve some of those issues.

Disney conducted research into this area of concern and has begun a campaign to create more spaces for outdoor play and to improve outdoor conservation. The National Wildlife Foundation is doing the same. Here is part of the NWF report:

“Little kids love to play. That’s not news. Play comes naturally and is necessary for the development of physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills. Play is part of being human. But, as it turns out, not all play is equal.

Recent research shows that young children who play outdoors in spaces that are specifically designed for 0-5 year olds actually garner more developmental benefits:

  • They engage in 22% more physical activity.
  • Their behaviors improve.
  • They exhibit fewer Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms
  • They tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.

“In addition, children who spend time outdoors at a young age are more likely to remain active as they get older, and they tend to prefer outdoor experiences into adulthood. Whether you aim to reduce childhood obesity, improve social development, increase cognitive skills or build the next generation of conservation stewards, getting children to spend regular time outdoors at the earliest possible age is a recipe for success.” Read more of that report Here

I know from experience that gardening is important for children. Gardening is a way for kids to get outside and to become part of nature, and Kids Need Nature. Although this is fodder for yet another post, Nature Also Needs Our Kids. Kids and Nature: It’s a Win-Win Situation.

©Jacki Kellum April 8, 2017

Heal

 

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American Girl Doll Maryellen Larkin Is A Sock-Hop Back Into the 1950s

American Girl Dolls are almost as appealing to adults as they are to children. I am almost the same age as Maryellen Larkin, who was about 10-years-old in 1954. In 1954, I was 4-years-old, and through Maryellen Larkin, I can reclaim parts of my own past.

Like Maryellen Larkin, I had a Poodle Skirt and I wore my hair in a ponytail. When I was a girl, I was a cheerleader, and our earliest cheerleading uniforms had big, round skirts. When we turned around, our skirts twirled in big circles. Our school dances were held in the gymnasium, and to protect the shiny floor, everyone would remove their shoes to dance. We called our dances sock hops. When I was a girl, we were allowed to leave the school grounds for lunch and my friends and I would walk a few blocks to our neighborhood diner. We would put coins into jukeboxes and play our favorite songs while we ate.

When I was a girl, I had outfits that look like Maryellen’s Play Outfit. We called the pants petal pushers. They were designed to be short enough that the hems of the pants would not get caught in our bicycle chains. In 1954, the petal pusher were a short step beyond Samantha’s bicycle bloomers that she wore in 1904.

Almost every night, I rolled my hair in curlers and regardless of how uncomfortable that the whole affair was, I slept in curlers all night long. Maryellen’s curlers are Spoolies. They were made of a soft vinyl. After I twisted my wet hair around spoolies, I snapped the spoolies shut, and you slept like that all night long.

American Girl Dolls are almost as appealing to adults as they are to children. I am almost the same age as Maryellen Larkin, who was about 10-years-old in 1954. In 1954, I was 4-years-old, and through Maryellen Larkin, I can reclaim parts of my own past.

Over and again, I praise the American Girl Doll Company for the way that it makes history real for children of today. I have said this many times before, but I believe that everyone should have a doll of her own. I have a Maryellen Larkin doll and for many reasons, I love her, but I know that my primary reason for loving Maryellen Larkin is that she takes me back to my own childhood. She helps me recover a piece of my past.

Like Maryellen Larkin, I had a Poodle Skirt and I wore my hair in a ponytail. When I was a girl, I was a cheerleader, and our earliest cheerleading uniforms had big, round skirts. When we turned around, our skirts twirled in big circles. Our school dances were held in the gymnasium, and to protect the shiny floor, everyone would remove their shoes to dance. We called our dances sock hops. When I was a girl, we were allowed to leave the school grounds for lunch and my friends and I would walk a few blocks to our neighborhood diner. We would put coins into jukeboxes and play our favorite songs while we ate.

When I was a girl, I had outfits that look like Maryellen’s Play Outfit. We called the pants petal pushers. They were designed to be short enough that the hems of the pants would not get caught in our bicycle chains. In 1954, the petal pusher were a short step beyond Samantha’s bicycle bloomers that she wore in 1904.

©Jacki Kellum March 26, 2017

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Meet American Girl Doll Samantha Parkington – Learn about Life in the Early 1900s

The American Girl Doll Samantha Parkington was born in Mount Bedford, New York, in 1895. People call that era the Gay Nineties or the Turn of the Century, meaning the turn from the 19th Century to the 20th Century. This period of history is also called the Victorian era. Queen Victoria ruled England from 1837 to 1901.

Victorianism affected many things in both England and America. The Victorian style of architecture is especially notable. Samantha’s house was based on a Victorian house in Mount Kisco, New York. Here is a quote:

“Author Valerie Tripp grew up in Mt. Kisco, New York, and she passed this house every day on her way to school. The Victorian home inspired the one she wrote about in Samantha’s stories.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 66.

I love Victorian houses, and I relate to many things about the Victorian era. That is when my grandparents were young. In many ways, I am still connected to that time period, and Samantha felt connected to her own time period and the times before her. Although she was born in the 1800s. She was a child in 1904. Here is a quote:

“Samantha is growing up at the start of a new century, and the world is changing fast. Samantha is excited by new ideas, but her grandmother, Grandmary, insists that the old ways of doing things are best. Sometimes Samantha feels torn between the two worlds she lives in.” American Girl The Story of America, p. 34

When Samantha Parkington was first released in 1986, she wore a plain, checked dress. It was like a school dress. When Samantha was re-released as a Beforever Doll in 2014, she arrived in a frilly pink dress.

Here is what the American Girl website says about Samantha and her Beforever Meet Outfit:

Samantha Parkington is kind, generous, and always ready to make a new friend. She has sparkling brown eyes that open and close and long, glossy brown curls. She comes in an authentic 1904 outfit [which includes]:

  • A petal-pink dress with a layer of sheer dotted mesh on top, a lace hem and collar, short puff sleeves, and a burgundy velvet sash
  • White tights
  • White bloomers [or underpants]
  • Black Mary Jane shoes
  • A burgundy ribbon for her hair

Samantha’s accessories include a velvet purse and a locket. Here is what the American Girl website says about Samantha’s Accessories:

When Samantha is out and about, she always brings her favorite accessories:

  • A golden locket necklace that she keeps close to her heart
  • A lace headband featuring a pretty two-tone flower with pearly accents at the center
  • A velvet burgundy purse on a golden chain, just in case she walks by Mr. Carruthers’ Candy Shop—or a friend in need

 

Although the books tell us that Samantha would rather be climbing trees than acting like a proper lady, I see Samantha as lacey and fine. Her pink coat and hat are part of my favorite American Girl outfit. Beneath her pink coat in this picture, Samantha is wearing her Flower Picking Dress and Button Up Boots. Again, Samantha’s clothes are some of my favorite clothes. In the right photo, Samantha is carrying her Traveling Bag in one hand and her Lacy Parasol in the other. American Girl still sells the Lacy Parasol.

Quite often, Victorian homes have fancy, little garden houses or shelters behind them. These are called Gazebos, and Samantha has a Gazebo. In this picture, Samantha is serving her Summertime Treats in her Gazebo. You can still buy Samantha’s Summertime Treats. Here is what the American Girl website says about them:

Samantha is ready for a delightful afternoon party! Her celebration will be the sweetest one yet with this set [which includes]:

  • Colorful faux petits fours to serve on a golden-rimmed plate with a dainty doily
  • Two pink glasses
  • A matching pink vase for holding the flowers that Samantha picked that morning
  • A lacy fan to help her keep cool
  • A pair of napkins

Samantha often paints while she is out in her gazebo, too. Here is a quote about Samantha and her interest in art:

“Painting and drawing are popular hobbies for young ladies at the turn of the century. Samantha’s dream is to be a professional painter one day, like her hero, the famous Mary Cassatt.” American Girl The Story of America, p. 34

Mary Cassatt was an Impressionist painter, and she is known for her paintings of mothers with their children. Most Impressionists were from France and were men. Mary Cassatt was from American, and she was a woman.

In this picture, Samantha is dressed in her School Outfit, which has a Buster Brown look to it. Buster Brown was a comic strip character created in 1902 by Richard F. Outcault, and he was adopted as the mascot of the Brown Shoe Company in 1904. Samantha Parkington’s tenth birthday was in 1904. Buster Brown, his sweetheart Mary Jane, and his dog Tige, an American Pit Bull Terrier, were well-known to the American public in the early 20th century. The character’s name was also used to describe a popular style of suit for young boys, the Buster Brown suit, that echoed his own outfit.[1] Wikipedia

Mary Jane Shoes are typically black with straps across the top. They are named for Buster Brown’s sweetheart Mary Jane. Like Buster Brown and his girlfriend, Samantha often wears Mary Jane shoes.

When Samantha Parkington was a child, only the wealthier children were able to go to school, but they didn’t dress for school the way that we do today. They also sat in different kinds of desks. Because there were no cafeterias at school when she was a child, Samantha carried her lunch to school in a tin pail.

When she was a child, Samantha made the acquaintance of a poor girl named Nellie, and poor children were not allowed to stay in school. They had to quit school and go to work early–while they were still children. Regardless of the fact that Samantha was wealthy and Nellie was poor, Samantha was Nellie’s friend, and Samantha invited Nellie to her parties, and she shared her toys with her.

Samantha’s Aunt Cornelia rallied for the rights of women. She was what is called a Suffragist or a Suffragette. Like her aunt, Samantha also rallied, but she rallied for the rights of children, and she spoke out against child labor, the tradition that forced poor children like Nellie to quit school and go to work. Samantha’s Aunt Cornelia ultimately adopts Nellie, and Nellie has privileges, too.

When Samantha was a child, the horse and buggy days were beginning to end, and people were finding other ways to travel. Bicycles were very popular, and Samantha had a bicycle. Samantha called her grandmother Grandmary, and although it did not make her Grandmary happy, Samantha got a pair of pants to make riding her bicycle easier. Samantha’s bicycle pants were called bloomers. Here is a quote:

“Amelia Bloomer popularized bloomers (loose-fitting pants) for women. She believed that ladies should wear comfortable fashions for activities such as cycling.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 36.

During the Victoria era, children often wore sailor outfits. Queen Victoria’s children’s portraits were done in sailor suits. Samantha’s bathing suits look like sailor suits. The skirt of Samatha’s Piney Point bathing suit opens, and she wears bloomers underneath the skirt.

When Samantha was a child, Teddy Roosevelt was elected president. He was president from 1901 – 1908. Because he had refused to shoot a bear while out hunting, the first Teddy bear was created in honor of President Roosevelt. Samantha received a Teddy bear for her birthday in 1904.

But my favorite of Samantha’s toys is her Clara doll, which is no longer made. Samantha received her doll for Christmas. I am happy to say that my Samantha doll has a Clara doll–a doll of her own. You might want to check out my video about the American Girl Dolls Who Have Dolls of Their Own. Samantha was wearing her Cranberry Christmas Dress in her Christmas Story Book: Samantha’s Surprise.

Samantha’s Cranberry Christmas Dress is part of her original wardrobe. It is designed in the Victorian Blouson syle, which was popular during the Turn of the Century. Here is a definition of Blouson: a woman’s outer garment having a drawstring, belt, or similar closing, at or below the waist, which causes it to blouse. .[or poof above the waist].  Samantha’s original outfit patterns also include her Winter Plaid Cape and Garters, and her Birthday Dress and Pinafore.

©Jacki Kellum March 19, 2017

 

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Birthdays of American Girl Dolls

January

Melody Ellison – January 1, 1954

February

Ivy Ling – February 28, 1966

March

Marie-Grace Gardner – March 3, 1843

Josefina Montoya – March 19 1815

April

Rebecca Rubin – April 4, 1905

Addy Walker – April 9, 1855

Felicity Merriman – April 21, 1765

Molly McIntire – April 22, 1934

May

Julie Albright – May 1, 1966

Maryellen Larkin – May 7, 1945

Kit Kittredge – May 19, 1923

Samantha Parkington – May 26, 1895

Cecile Rey – May 28, 1843

June

Kirsten Larson – June 8, 1845

October

Caroline Abbott – October 22, 1802

In Chronological Order

Kaya

Felicity Merriman – April 21, 1765

Elizabeth Cole – November 5, 1765

Caroline Abbott – October 22, 1802

Josefina Montoya – March 19, 1815

Marie-Grace Gardner – March 3, 1843

Cecile Rey – May 28, 1843

Addy Walker – Chose April 9, 1855

Kirsten Larson – June 8, 1845

Samantha Parkington – May 26, 1895

Rebecca Rubin – April 4, 1905

Kit Kittredge – May 19, 1923

Molly McIntire – April 22, 1934

Maryellen Larkin – May 7, 1945

Melody Ellison – January 1, 1954

Ivy Ling – February 28, 1966

Julie Albright – May 1, 1966

 

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Meet Melody Ellison – Her Voice Echoes the Hope of a Nation in the 1960s

Today I want to tell you about the American Girl Doll Melody Ellison, and I want to tell you why I consider her to be the best African American Historical Doll.

In my opinion, one of the main things that separates the American Girl Dolls from other dolls is that they can facilitate several types of learning. The better of the historical dolls can be harnessed to teach history in a powerful and integrated way, and I believe that the teaching of history must be one of the American Girl Doll Company’s goals. In this Melody Ellison banner, American Girl says: “Connecting Girls to the Past,” and I believe that Melody Ellison does connect us to the past. But Melody is not the first African American historical doll, and yet, in my opinion, she is the only one of the African American historical dolls that is relatively true to the period that she represents. She is the only one of the African American Girl dolls that truthfully connects girls to her past.

I have read several reviews written about the other historical African American American Girl Dolls, and it seems to me that prior to Melody, the American Girl Doll Company had tried to tip-toe around the race issue and to distort or whitewash African American history to make everyone seem have been the same and to make history seem to have been more attractive than it sometimes was.

Don’t get me wrong. I detest the slavery chapter of this nation’s history. That is when the American Girl Dolls Addy Walker and Cecile Rey lived. I hate bigotry, but I do not believe that it is in anyone’s best interest to distort or to grossly whitewash the facts. A wise man said that those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it, and I believe that there are elements about the first two African American Dolls that are efforts to stretch the truth. I am convinced that both the Addy Doll and the Cecile Doll could have been more realistic without entering a fantasy world and without being tasteless either. I’ll say more about that in other reviews, but in this review, I want to focus on ways that the American Girl Doll Melody Ellison is more true to what was happening for the African Americans in her time period–the period of the 1960s.

Melody Ellison was a child who lived in Detroit during a very exciting time for African Americans.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., came to Detroit in 1963, and the Rights of African Americans all over the United States began to change.

Detroit was also the Motown Music center of the world, and Motown music was the rage during the 1960s.

Several of the female Motown singers had hair styles that were like Melody’s hair style, and I love this about the Melody doll.

Melody Ellison’s accessories are on target, too. Notice that the accessories include a political button that alludes to Dr. King’s visit to Detroit in 1963. It says. “Equal Rights in ’63.”

Melody Ellison’s little turquoise hat is a pillbox hat, and Jackie Kennedy is the person who was primarily responsible for making the pillbox hat a fashion staple during the 1960s.

Last, Melody Ellison’s cateye sunglasses were another fashion craze during the 1960s. The rim of cateye glasses turn upward on the top, outer corner, and the shapes of the two eye areas in the rims of cateye glasses look like a pair of cat’s eyes.

In several ways, I believe that Melody Ellison accurately depicts the lifestyle that was possible for African Americans during the 1960s. Part of the success of this doll hinges on the fact that the 1960s were the first time in American History when African Americans could see significant improvements in their lives. In many ways, it was the first time that the African Americans could begin to visualize that there truly was hope for them. Because hope for the African Americans had begun to emerge during the 1960s, their stories of this period can be told without feeling the pressure to whitewash them. In conclusion, I do believe that the American Girl Doll Melody Ellison does connect girls to her past, and I do believe that Melody Ellison’s voice does echo the hope of this nation in the 1960s. Melody Ellison’s mission is accomplished.

©Jacki Kellum March 15, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

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Meet American Girl Doll Addy Walker – Learn America’s Story

Addy Walker was born a slave but when she was young, she and her mother escaped to Philadelphia, where slavery was against the law. Chronologically speaking, Kaya was the first historical American Girl Doll and Addy is the seventh. Kaya was a child in the northwest in 1764, and Addy is a child in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, across the USA, in 1864. That was 100 years later, and the USA has changed a great deal during that time.

Addy Walker is the third American Girl Doll who lived during the time of a war. Felicity had been a child during the Revolutionary War and Caroline had been a child during the War of 1812.  Addy Walker was a child during the Civil War–the war that ended slavery in America. Here is a quote: “Like many children born into slavery Addy doesn’t know her own birthday, so she chooses a day. She picks April 9, the day the Civil War ended in 1865 and all slaves were freed.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 60

Addy Walker was first released for sale in 1993, and at that time, her Meet Outfit was pink with stripes. Her first Meet Accessories included a straw bonnet with a blue bow.

When Addy Walker was updated as a Beforever Doll in 2014, her Meet Outfit Dress was blue and her meet accessories were slightly different, too. The books tell us that Addy Walker’s mother sewed her clothes, but I doubt that Addy’s dresses would have been as fancy as the ones that are currently sold for her. Addy’s pink meet dress was probably more authentic for a runaway slave during the 1800s.

During their escape from slavery, Addy and her mother were separated from the rest of the family. When Addy’s father finds them, the family is able to move into a boarding house, and Addy gets her first bed that she can call her own. Here is another quote:

“Addy’s colorful quilt shows the faces and places that represent her family. Addy lays the quilt on her very own bed with pride.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 62.

In the largest picture, you see Addy’s doll Ida Bean. Addy Walker is one of the American Girl Dolls who have dolls of their own. You might like to check out my video and blog post about all of the American Girl Dolls who have doll of their own.

Addy Walker’s mother’s employer gives Addy a Christmas dress. Addy wore her Christmas dress to church, and she carried her doll Ida Bean with her. Ida Bean’s dress looks slightly like Addy’s stilting outfit dress.  From what I understand about the period when Addy was a child, Addy’s stilting outfit is more true to the way that Addy would have dressed than the dresses sold for Addy today.

I like the fact that an African American doll has been made to represent this country’s unfortunate involvement with slavery, but I would prefer that Addy’s clothes be more representative of the way that she would have actually dressed. I detest slavery, but if the historical American Girl Dolls are intended as a means of teaching history, I believe that they should be true to America’s actual history. A wise man said that those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it, and I believe that the clothes sold for Addy now are efforts to make us forget the way that life actually was for slaves and runaway slaves during the 1800s. Dolls that are efforts to stretch the truth. I am convinced that both the Addy Doll can be represented more realistically without entering a fantasy world and without being tasteless either.

If the goal of the historical American Girl dolls is to connect today’s girls to the past, I believe that the Melody Ellison doll is the first African American doll that sucessfully accomplishes that goal.

©Jacki Kellum March 15, 2017

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American Girls Have Heart – Take A Stand Against Bullying – Grow A Garden of Happiness

In 2017, I launched a Doll for for American Girls, and part of the mission was to help girls learn to sew clothes for their American Girl Dolls. But from the very beginning, I have said to everyone concerned that my greatest goal is to teach the importance of learning to feel and to care for the feelings of others, and from the first day of the club, I have told the girls that our motto is American Girls Have Heart.

For a while, things rocked along fairly smoothly, but as will sometimes be the case, last week, one group of girls was unkind to another little girl, and I thought that we should take a few minutes to review what it means to have heart and what it means NOT to have heart.

When girls DON’T have heart, they are prone to leave other girls out or to mistreat them in some way.

I have taught for 40 years, and in my observation, little girls who don’t have heart don’t get better–at least not on their own. I often say that Mean Little Girls Make Mean Big Girls and Mean Big Girl Make Mean Women. The prognosis for meanness isn’t good until we make a significant effort to stop meanness.

The best way to stop meanness is to stop bullying.

Therefore, I want to be sure that everyone knows that the Jacki Kellum Doll Club for American Girls is a No Bully Zone.

Progress will be made when everyone starts pulling together. That is also when the fun begins.

So right now, wherever you are, let’s make a pinkie swear: No More Bullying.

Let’s put our hands together and shout, “American Girls Have Heart.”

After that, we can enter the Fairy Wonder Zone of No Bullying.

It’s a place where happy people grow.

©Jacki Kellum March 14, 2017

 

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Meet the American Girl Doll Kirsten Larson Learn America’s History

Kirsten Larson was a child in 1854 and from the Minnesota Territory, before it became a state. If  you consider Marie-Grace and Cecile as a unit, Kirsten is the sixth historical American Girl doll.

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Kirsten Larson is from nearly the same time period as Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote the Little House on the Prairie books, and she lived in almost the same part of the USA. Both Laura Ingalls Wilder and Kirsten Larson were pioneer girls, and Kirsten Larson attends school in a school house that is much the same as the school house where Laura Ingalls Wilder attended school. In this picture, you see Kirsten in her red school dress and shawl. This is one of Kirsten’s original outfits.

At school, Kirsten sat on a little log bench, and she carried her lunch in a little wooden box called a tine. Because Kirsten had difficulty speaking English, she initially had trouble making new friends, but going to school helped her make friends and helped her improve her English, too. Kirsten’s teacher was Miss Winston, and when Miss Winston came to live with the Larsons, Kirsten began to learn English more quickly. After that, she made friends more easily.

Here is a quote from a very good book about American Girl Dolls:

“With a pioneering spirit, Kirsten and her family leave their home in Sweden to set sail for America. After many months of traveling, they finally arrive in the Minnesota Territory. Everything in the New World is strange, but friends and family help Kirsten find the true meaning of home.: American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 57.

Kirsten Larson’s school Recess Outfit Includes the blue coat that she is wearing in the bottom photo. Here is a quote about Kirsten’s school, friends, and recess;

“At first, Kirsten finds it difficult to adjust to school in Minnesota. Between lessons, Kirsten’s classmates play games outdoors. Always excited to try new things, Kirsten joins in the fun. She soon makes new friends and settles in. Having made new friends in Minnesota feels more like an American. For her birthday Kirsten’s friends give her a quilt. It’s signed, ‘For Kirsten Larson on her 10th birthday.’ ” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 56.

You also see Kirsten’s bed and  trunk in this photo. They are hand-painted in traditional Scandinavian style. Kirsten’s family brought this furniture with them from Sweden, and they store their treasures in the trunk.

Kirsten Larson’s doll Sari is one of the treasures that traveled from Sweden in the trunk. Kirsten’s rag doll is very much how I imagine Laura Ingalls Wilder’s doll that she received for Christmas in Little House in the Big Woods. The Kirsten Doll has a doll of her own, and her name is Sari. You might want to check out my post and video about American Girl Dolls Who Have Dolls of Their Own.

Because they had to sail across the ocean to live in America, the Swedish immigrants couldn’t pack and bring many things with them. They didn’t even have much silverware–or in Kirsten’s case–wooden ware. When the Swedish immigrants visited each other’s homes for dinner or parties, they would carry their own eating utensils with them. Kirsten carried her wooden spoon in a spoon bag that she tied around her waist. Here is another quote:

“Swedish immigrants owned just enough utensils for their own families. They could not bring much with them on their voyage. Guests carried their own utensils in spoon bags when they went to other immigrants’ homes for parties.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 56.

Kirsten’s home in Minnesota was in the top of the northern part of the USA, and that is an area that gets very cold during the winter. At the time when Kirsten was a child, some of the winters were brutally cold where she lived. Laura Ingalls Wilder often wrote about living in these northern territories as a pioneer. One of Wilder’s books is titled The Long Winter. Because she lived where it was so cold, Kirsten has many beautiful winter outfits. Kirsten even had a pair of snow shoes and a pair of ice skates that strap around her boots. Kirsten’s red boots are still highly prized among collectors, and several companies sell red look-alike boots. Here is another quote:

“To help keep Kirsten warm, her mother knits a sweater, hat, and mittens using traditional Scandinavian patterns.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 58.

One of Kirsten’s most prized outfits is her Saint Lucia outfit. Here are more quotes about Kirsten, her winters, and her celebrations of Saint Lucia:

“Saint Lucia’s Day is a holiday celebrated during winter in Sweden to welcome the arrival of lighter days to come. Kirsten dresses up in a special outfit on this day. The Saint Lucia wreath that Kirsten wears symbolizes the coming of brighter days.” American Girl The Story of America, p. 26.

“Kirsten’s first winter in Minnesota feels long and cold and she is tired of spending all day stuck inside her family’s tiny cabin. To make matters worse, celebrating her first Christmas in America makes Kirsten homesick. Kirsten is determined to continue the family’s Swedish traditions in America. Kirsten sets out her family’s holiday items to make the cabin feel like their home in Sweden.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 58.

If you look at my American Girl Doll Map, you will see that with the addition of Kirsten Larson, the American Girl Doll homes have begun to circle the continental United States of America. Kaya, from 1764 is from the Northwest. Felicity Merriman from 1774, is from Williamsburg, Virginia, which is completely across the country from Kaya, on the East coast. Caroline Abbot, from 1812, is from upstate New York, on Lake Ontario, and Josefina Montoya, from 1824 is from Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is in the Southwest. With Kirsten Larson, we have another doll from the North of the USA, and she is from Minnesota.

One thing that I love about American Girl Dolls is that they help us realize how much of a melting pot America is. If we are all perfectly honest, we must admit that every human in America is an immigrant. Kaya and other Native Americans arrived here before the rest of us, but even the people that we call “Native Americans” are immigrants. At one time, the waters that separated the USA and Asia were a solid land mass, and the Native Americans walked across that land and migrated from Asia to America.

Felicity Merriman’s family immigrated across the Atlantic Ocean from England to Virginia, and Kirsten Larson’s family immigrated across the same ocean from Sweden to Minnesota. Both Felicity and Kirsten immigrated from the continent of Europe.

©Jacki Kellum March 13, 2017

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American Girl Dolls with Birthdays in March

Marie-Grace Gardner’s Birthday is March 3, 1843

Josefina Montoya Celebrates Her Birthday on March 19, which is the Feast Day of San José. Josefina was named after Saint Joseph or San José. She was born in 1815.

Marie-Grace Gardner’s Hometown is New Orleans, Louisiana

Marie-Grace Gardener’s Biggest Dream is to make a difference to others

Josefina Montoya’s Hometown is near Santa Fe, New Mexico

Josefina Montoya’s Biggest Dream is to be a Healer, like her aunt.

©Jacki Kellum March 12, 2017

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Meet the American Girl Doll Josefina Montoya – Learn the History of America

Chronologically speaking the fourth historical American Girl Doll is Josefina Montoya who is from Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1824.

If we look at a map of the United States, we can see that with the addition of Josefina, we now have dolls from 4 sides of the country. The first doll Kaya is from the Northwest, and Felicity Merriman is from Wiliamsburg, VA, which is on the East Coast, which is completely on the other side of the country. Caroline Abbott is from the extreme northern part of the United States, in Sackets Harbor, New York. She is almost from Canada, and Josefina is from the Southwest. I love the American Girl Doll Company’s commitment to teaching history through the American Girl Dolls, and as you will begin to see, the dolls are also used to teach about the huge variety of cultures in America.

Throughout this article, I’ll be referring to passages from two excellent American Girl Doll books: American Girl: The Story of America and American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide. Both of these were published by DK.

“Josefina’s aunt, Tia Magdalena, is a healer. She teaches Josefina to use herbs from her garden on the rancho as medicine.” American Girl: The Story of America, p. 18.

Tia is the Spanish word for Aunt.

In the above picture, Josefina is wearing her Herb Gathering Outfit, and she her Rebozo is wrapped around her head.

“A long, fringed rebozo covers Josefina’s head from the sun when it’s hot, and keeps her warm on cool evenings.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 48.

Image result for josefina heirloom accessories

You can still buy Josefina’s rebozo at americangirl.com. The rebozo is part of the set Josefina’s accessories.

The yellow-striped dress is Josefina’s Christmas dress, and she is wearing a black mantilla, which is a veil that is held in place by a fancy comb. Josefina’s mamá makes her a doll, who wears the same dress and a similar black veil.

“Josefina enjoys sewing and making clothes for herself. When her aunt gives Josefina some striped fabric, Josefina makes a dress to wear on Noche Buena, Christmas Eve–the most special night of the year on the rancho. … Her doll Niña was made by her mamá.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 49.

Josefina’s doll is part of her Nighttime Accessories Collection that is still stole at americangirl.com.

Josefina has a rug blanket on her bed.

“Josefina learns how to weave warm blankets using colored yarn and a loom. ” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 48.

“When night falls on the rancho, Josefina is tucked up beneath a colorful blanket, and she has sweet dreams on her soft mattress, called a colchon. A cozy rug is the perfect spot to say good night to her pet goat Sombrita.” Josefina’s black-and-white goat is name Sombrita. This is Spanish for ‘little shadow,’ because the goat follows Josefina wherever she goes!” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 49.

“Whether it’s a family dinner or special fiesta, osefina enjoys the hustle and bustle of working in the cocina, or kitchen. Together, Josefina and her three sisters make traditional New Mexican foods, such as tortillas, using fresh ingredients gathered from their kitchen garden. Josefina and her family use an outdoor oven called a horno for baking.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 51.

“Instead of celebrating her birthday, Josefina celebrates the feast day of San José, the saint she was named after. Helping Josefina look her best, her sisters bring out Mamá’s embroidered shawl and black fan, treasures saved just for special occasions.”  American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 5

One thing that I love about American Girl Dolls is that they help us realize how much of a melting pot America is. If we are all perfectly honest, we must admit that every human in America is an immigrant. Kaya and other Native Americans arrived here before the rest of us, but even the people that we call “Native Americans” are immigrants. At one time, the waters that separated the USA and Asia were a solid land mass, and the Native Americans walked across that land and migrated from Asia to America.

Felicity’s people sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and migrated from England to Williamsburg, VA.

Josefina’s people came from what once was Mexico but that became New Mexico when that area broke away from Spanish rule.

“In 1821, New Mexico becomes part of Mexico, which declares independence from Spain. When a new trail from Missouri Connects the U.S. to Mexico, American traders travel to Santa Fe for the first time. An exciting relationship develops between the two countries. In 1912, New Mexico joins the United States.” American Girl: The Story of America, p. 20.

“Before Mexico gained independence, the land was called New Spain. Other states were once part of Mexico, too, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.” American Girl: The Story of America, p. 21.

“New trade routes mean people in Mexico and the U.S. get to learn more about each other. When Americanos (American traders) come to Santa Fe, they get a glimpse of New Mexican life. Americans get to see New Mexican style, such as dresses, rebozos (shawls), and lacy fans–just like Josefina’s–for the first time.” American Girl: The Story of America. p. 20.

You can still buy Josefina’s Feast Outfit at americangirl.com

Here is what the website says about the Feast Outfit:

Instead of celebrating her birthday, Josefina celebrates the feast day of San José, the saint for whom she was named. She’ll be the star of her special party in this outfit that features:

  • A crisp white camisa, or blouse, edged with rows of ruffles
  • A brilliant turquoise skirt with embroidered trim
  • A wide orange sash that ties in back
  • Fancy slippers in turquoise satin—a surprise gift from her sister Clara
  • Silky red ribbons for her hair

You can also still buy Josefina’s Heirloom Accessories at americangirl.com

 Image result for josefina heirloom accessories

Other of Josefina’s Outfits:

Josefina Party Outfit:

 

 

Women from Mexico City, who were inspired by the European styles of the day, often visited Santa Fe wearing outfits like this one, which features:

  • A dress made of a floral calico print with a raised empire waist and tabbed trim
  • A fitted black spencer jacket

Josefina’s Havest Outfit

 

 

 

©Jacki Kellum March 12, 2017