As a fan of the American Girl Series, I have heard rumors that this year, the company will be retiring it’s original historical girl of color Addy, and will be replacing her the new BeForever character Melody Ellison, whose story takes place in 1963-1964.
American Girl has taken a lot of criticism for its lack of diversity in their historic characters and seems to have hit-or-miss sales success with the two girls of color that they have released. It is my understanding that Addy, a nine-year-old who escapes slavery with her mother and makes a new life in the freedom of Philadelphia, was wildly successful but Cecile, the wealthy young lady from New Orleans was retired rather quickly due to poor sales. (Personally, I liked her but felt her story line could have been better rounded out more effectively.) However, I truly think Melody is going to be a big hit. There seems to be a push for American Girl to come up with not-so-distant historic characters that bring grandmothers, moms and daughters together and Melody fits the bill. She is from Detroit, centered in the crux of the civil rights movement and appropriately aged at a time in all young people’s lives when they are not quite as innocent as they once were, but not as cynical either.
Melody loves to sing, she believes in fairness and equality, and she has no trouble taking a stand for the things she believes in. I applaud the scene in which she quietly but firmly withdraws her money from the bank when the branch fails to give her older sister an interview due to her skin color. I think we live in a time when young people need to remember there is a time and a place in which we must take a loud stand in order to be heard as well as times when we can quietly and thoughtfully make a difference. No, Melody’s $10 probably won’t break the bank, but it’s all she has and in this scene, readers see the beginnings of her social conscience. What a wonderful thing to showcase.
Melody’s world is a balanced one. Faith is important to her family. There is plenty of love and the book highlights the best of the 60’s as well with the music and the fashion that will make for a fun read as well as a popular toy line when her doll and other products hit AG stores this summer. Fans of AG, we have another fabulous BeForever character in Melody. I have no problem singing her praises and telling you to Buy this book for your young reader!