Recently I was asked to edit an article for the July/August issue of the magazine. The issue is all about Christians in the arts, and this particular article is about Pam Davis and Girls 'n Grace. Girls 'n Grace is, I guess for lack of a better term, a Christian alternative for American Girl. Make no mistake--we adore American Girl at this house. But I personally think there is room for everyone. I interviewed Pam Davis, the found of GnG, by phone, and she is so wonderful.
She designs the dolls and works with a renowned dollmaker to get them made, and then she writes the books about the dolls herself. Currently, there are two: Mesi (pronounce May-cee), an African girl, and Sydney Clair, a girl growing up in the American South in the 1960s, plus a line of dolls called "Just Like Me," which are a range of races, hair color, eye color, etc. However, Pam has plans for GnG dolls from all over the world as well as dolls from the 1950s through the new millennium.
I love the emphasis on the Christian faith and especially the notion of girls growing in grace. What an awesome foundation. This fall, there will be GnG clubs (similar to Girl Scouts) starting in various churches around the country. The troupes will incorporate the doll characters, and they'll be starting with Mesi. So, the girls will be learning about Africa, trying out African recipes, checking out African fashion, and learning about missions opportunities.
Another thing I love about GnG is what is called the "Grace Race." GnG holds tea parties, either in churches or schools, and Pam herself comes to speak at them. They're a great chance for moms and daughters and grandmas to get together. Where the Grace Race comes in is that dolls and books are donated to girls in need--both in the U.S. and worldwide. At each table of the tea parties, there are cards that the girls can write messages on and decorate. A card then goes to the child in need, along with the doll, so that the gift isn't coming from an impersonal corporation, it's coming from another little girl.
I liked Pam, her ideas, and her dolls so much that that is what Lucy is getting for her birthday on Sunday. We chose Sydney Clair for her--1) because Lucy loves both those names, and 2) because the doll comes dressed in yellow, Lucy's favorite color. I've skimmed through the first book that comes with, and I'm excited about reading it with her. Oh, and each doll comes with a secret code--kind of like Webkinz--that you can use online to enter a whole GnG world of games, etc. Cool, huh? You can check it all out here.
My other recommendation is from American Girl itself (herself?!), and that is the latest AG movie, which was made for and by HBO (now available on DVD). It's called "An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong."
I checked it out of the library for Lucy, but I wanted to preview it first. All of the other AG movies we've seen have taken place during various points in history--we love all of them. This one however, is current and deals with the extremely important topic of bullying. I popped it in tonight after the girls went to bed and thought I'd read a book while it was running, just glancing to see if there was anything I didn't want Luce to see.
I never did pick up my book because I got so engrossed in it. Darren came in and said, "What are you watching?" When I told him, he brought in his dinner, sat down, and watched the entire thing with me.
It was fantastic--definitely up to the standard of American Girl. I mean, we're not talking "Heathers" or "Mean Girls" or anything like that; this is something that you can feel safe to show to little girls. It definitely has children being spiteful to others, but it sends a great message about being true to oneself and being loyal and kind to others, as well as a strong anti-bullying message.
I'm really glad AG took this topic on, and you can see the trailer here. I wanted to see if it would be good for Lucy since in the fall, she'll be at school all day and things start to get different. First of all, I want her to be on the lookout for others who might get overlooked or picked on by others. Also, I was moderately bullied as a child (probably about the same amount most children are), and Darren was seriously bullied--enough to change schools. I just want the whole topic to be on all of our radar, particularly with Lucy since she is our more sensitive girl.
In fact, while we were watching, Darren and I both said, "It just kills me to think someone might be really mean to our daughters some day." Then Darren said, "Well, Lucy, anyway. I'd like to see anyone try to bully Elaine," and I answered, "Yeah, I can just see her, like she does now at any perceived injustice, roaring at someone 'DAT IS NOT BERRY NICE!'"
As a bonus, a highlight in the Chrissa movie is that a lot of it takes place on a swim team and...drum roll here...Lucy just got promoted to Level 4 in swimming, which means that in the fall she can be on the swim team. She has far exceeded any athleticism of either of her parents already, and we're really proud of her. She's so excited too.
So, there you go. If you have a daughter, granddaughter, niece, or little sister, there are two good products I highly recommend!