But besides being a black hole of consumerism, the American Girl franchise is wonderful way to get girls interested in American history. The dolls each represent different time periods, and they come with their own historical fiction books and movies (more stuff to buy!) telling their stories. The dolls' narratives encompass everything from slavery in the Civil War-era to more recent recession times, when people are living out of their cars (yes, there was, at one point, a $95 homeless American Girl doll. It was not well received).
American Girl unveiled its newest dolls Monday, and they're New Orleanians. Cecile and Marie-Grace are two gals living in the city in 1853, working to overcome racial barriers (Cecile is a "well-to-do" African-American and Marie-Grace is a white newcomer to New Orleans) and a nasty yellow fever epidemic to be best friends forever! Cecile also has a parrot named Cochon. You can learn more about the dolls here.
Harry Connick Jr. and his 13-year-old daughter Kate created a song for the new characters, with proceeds from iTunes sales going to the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music — which is a good enough reason to beg your mom for these dolls, right?
(Also, enjoy comedian Jena Friedman's list of "Rejected American Girl Dolls.")