Julie, An American Girl by Megan McDonald

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Julie, an American Girl by Megan McDonald
I remember getting my very first American Girl catalog in the mail*. I was about four years old, and I spent hours pouring over the pictures of the dolls and their outfits and accessories. Of course, back then, there were only three dolls, and three books about each of them. (Personally, Molly was my favorite, because of the braids -- and I got her for Christmas when I was five). A few years later, when American Girl released the Felicity series, I was lucky enough to attend Felicity's Elegant Tea-Party in Colonial Williamsburg. So, of course, I was excited to hear about Julie, the newest American girl, whose novels are set in the 1970s.
As the first novel begins, Julie, a 9 year-old living in San Francisco, is packing up to move out of her old house. Her parents are getting divorced, and she and her older sister are moving into a small apartment with their mother. For Julie, this means leaving her best friend (Ivy), and starting 4th grade at a new school. However, when she starts school and tries to join the basketball team, she finds out that girls are not allowed. In typical American Girl fashion, she starts a petition to fight for her spot on the team.
Like all American girl novels, these titled are peppered with cultural and historical references, (In one book, Julie asks her mom what Watergate is). To me, some of these references seemed a little bit forced, but this may be more because I'm reading them as an adult than from any flaw in the writing.
I also have a few quibbles with the historical accuracy. For example, Julie decorates her locker at school, and while I'm sure there were lockers in the 1970s, I'm not sure that they had them in elementary schools (none of the elementary schools here in Virginia Beach have them today, and I noticed that in The Wednesday Wars, the junior high still had cloakrooms and cubbies instead). Any librarian types want to verify this for me?
Regardless, tween girls will enjoy this glimpse into the era in which their parents were growing up.

To find any of the titles in a library near you, see below:

Meet Julie: an American girl

Julie tells her story

Happy New Year, Julie

Julie and the Eagles

Julie's Journey

Changes for Julie

(And, there's even a DS game!)

A few other random links --

A search of the blogosphere revealed this adorable blog about American Girl dolls and books written by two ten-year-olds (which makes me a bit sad that blogs didn't exist when I was 10)

Also, weirdly, when I looked at the Wikipedia page for American Girl, I found some possible errors, such as "The stories were originally written by author Daniel Steele"

*This may, in fact, have been the very first American Girl catalog ever.


Emily Wing Smith said...

I remember getting my first American Girl catalog, too. My favorite (of the three) was Samantha. Oh, how times have changed.

Sara said...

Oh, I know. When I was in kindergarten, there was this girl in my class who had all the dolls and books and accessories... I'm not sure that would even be possible anymore!

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