Girls of Many Lands

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American Girl introduced the Girls of Many Lands series in 2002. Each story is about a 12-year-old girl[1] living in a different time period in different parts of the world.[2][3] The books, written by award-winning authors, originally came with a matching doll. Not toys to be played with, the dolls are delicately sculpted and intended for display. The series was discontinued in 2005 and the dolls have become a very collectible item.[4]

Books[edit]

Isabel (Taking Wing) England, 1592[edit]

Isabel Campion living in London, England in 1592 struggles with fitting her father's image of a "proper" girl, her adventurous and free-spirited ways often cause her problems in Tudor society. After making friends with a servant and having the audacity to watch a play at the theater, her father sends Isabel away to stay with her aunt de Vere in an attempt to have her learned in proper etiquette. Along the way she ends up in a situation with robbers, is rescued, and then has to disguise herself as a boy to join a group of theatrical performers.

Isabel finally reaches Aunt de Vere's estate and quickly develops an admiration for her. Isabel is then taught interesting subjects and helps with her Aunt's clinic. When word reaches that her baby sister, Hope, is ill and it might be the plague, Isabel goes home just in time. Her Aunt and old nurse have given up, but Isabel nurses Hope through the night and identifies that she does not have the plague. Isabel is welcomed home by her father where he tells her that he's sending her back because she has changed and he wants her to continue it.

Cécile (Gates of Gold) France, 1711[edit]

In 1711 France, Cécile Revel is the daughter of a poor doctor, although she has learned to read and write and is an independent young lady. After helping a woman who had fallen from a horse, she ends up serving in the Versailles court of King Louis XIV. In the complicated world of court life, Cécile gradually discovers that her heart and spirit are more noble than she thinks. When most of the royal family falls ill, Cécile cannot bear for them all to die in the hands of misguided court physicians, and locking herself and some maids in a room with the young Duke d'Anjou away from the doctors, saving his life.

Spring Pearl (The Last Flower) China, 1857[edit]

Called boyish by her new family for being able to read and write and work in a garden, twelve-year-old orphan Chou Spring Pearl (周 春珠) realizes that her "odd ways" just don't fit in the Sung home, the home she is taken to after her parents die in 1857 during the Second Opium War in Canton, China. She decides to be herself and slowly wins the respect of her benefactor's family, who did not initially respect her family or background. By being courageous and using her sensible practicality, Spring Pearl was able to save the Sung home.

Neela (Victory Song) India, 1939[edit]

Neela Sen is an independent-minded and freedom-loving Indian girl who is hoping for peace when preparing for her sister's wedding, dealing with her mother wanting her to marry. Her father is away on "business", or so her mother believes, but he is really marching for peace and India's independence. Neela finds out that he might be hurt and goes to search for him, which results in her traveling all the way to Calcutta. While in the city, which is controlled by Great Britain, Neela learns the importance of India's independence, and sees a world beyond her small rural life. Along the way she is helped by a rich woman with a lavish lifestyle. Neela is able to save her father, and return home.

Minuk (Ashes in the Pathway) Yup'ik Alaska, 1890[edit]

Minuk a young, curious, and mischievous Yup'ik girl in the banks of Alaska must endure the realization that her traditional way of life is changed forever with the arrival of Christian missionaries. Minuk is at first curious about the Hoffs and their strange ways. They have so many new things that she's never seen before. She also realizes that though they are different in some ways, ways about women remain the same. She grows a fondness for them, but realizes that the Hoffs are not as acceptable to her people's ways as they are to the Hoffs.

Saba (Under the Hyena's Foot) Ethiopia, 1846[edit]

After being kidnapped and brought to the emperor's palace in Gondar, Ethiopia, twelve-year-old Saba discovers that she and her brother are part of the emperor's desperate attempt to consolidate political power in the mid-1840s. Saba and her brother are initially sheltered in their home by their grandmother. Saba's brother, Mesfin, is tired of being treated like a child and encourages Saba to follow him in his disobedience and leave their sheltered home for a while. This gets them kidnapped and taken faraway to the palace of Gondar, where they discover secrets about their family and their past. Then suddenly, Mesfin disappears, and Saba is left all alone in the palace. Saba eventually comes up with a plan to save her brother, and finds the courage to escape the clutches of "the hyena."

Leyla (The Black Tulip) Turkey, 1720[edit]

While trying to help her financially destitute family, twelve-year-old Leyla ends up on a slave ship bound for Istanbul. Finding herself in the beautiful Topkapi Palace, she discovers that life in the sheltered world of the palace harem follows its own rigid rules, although it offers Leyla an unexpected opportunity during Turkey's brief Tulip Period of the 1720s. On the voyage, Leyla is in awe of how vast the world is. But Leyla soon discovers her voyage will lead her to slavery. She is bought at a market and taken to the Topkapi Palace, the secret world of women, where her life changes forever.

Kathleen (The Celtic Knot) Ireland, 1937[edit]

Twelve-year-old Kathleen Murphy from Ireland comes from a poor family. When she and her sisters are caught for being late to their Catholic school, it is requested that she brings her mother the next day. During the meeting of Kathleen's mother and the nun, it is suggested that she starts Irish dancing. Kathleen dreads this because of Tess O'Hara, who has been dancing since she was six. Kathleen attends the lesson and discovers that she loves her newfound talent and often says it feels like flying. However, at the end of the lesson, she is asked to pay her ninepence which Kathleen cannot afford. Tess and her group laugh at her and say that its free to them only because their family helps pay for the studio. Kathleen, embarrassed, tells her mother just as her father comes from work.

He gives her the ninepence to pay for that day. The next day, the teacher tells her Kathleen can go to the lessons for free because she is light on her feet and she is desperate to win the competition. Kathleen however soon discovers that to compete, it is requires to have an appropriate costume. Kathleen and her mother try to get some remnant material from a fabric store, but Tess O'Hara took every last bit of it for her costume. Kathleen starts praying to God for a costume and her prayers are answered when her Aunt Polly makes her a dress out of green curtains. The story ends with Kathleen winning the competition and Aunt Polly celebrating her marriage.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Girls of Many Lands". American Girl Fan. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Girls of Many Lands Series by Mary Casanova, Annie Dalton, Kirkpatrick Hill, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Laurence Yep, Siobhan Parkinson, Alev Lytle Croutier, Jane Kurtz". Kids Book Series. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Girl of Many Lands Collection". American Girl Playthings. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Treasures from the Past – American Girl's Girls of Many Lands". Doll Diaries. Retrieved 28 March 2014.