Until recently, if you wanted to buy an African-American doll from the American Girl Co.’s historic collection, you had one choice: “Addy Walker,” whose accompanying books told the story of her escape from slavery and search for her father and brother.
Now parents who found that educational narrative a bit heavy for playtime, or who simply want to provide their children with a broader picture of the black experience in America, have another choice.
American Girl’s latest character, Cécile Rey, is described as “a bold, confident girl from a well-to-do African-American family.” In a series of six books, set in 1850s New Orleans, Cécile Rey and her friend, Marie-Grace Gardner, form what American Girl calls “a unique bond through their shared love of music” and go on to help their community during the yellow fever epidemic that sweeps through New Orleans in 1853.
Hopefully parents won’t feel they have to choose between these two characters, any more than they do between the franchise’s collection of white dolls (there are about seven, by our count). Cécile is a welcome addition. But with six books on her experience with the aftermath of slavery, Addy’s story might still be the best lesson about that period in black history that many real American girls ever get.
Read more at the Huffington Post.
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