If you’re a millennial mom, you most likely remember the names Kirsten Larson, Samantha Parkington, and Molly McIntire better than you remember the names of any real kids you went to school with. Debuting in 1986, these original three American Girl dolls were a huge sensation, and brought history alive for millions of kids. Since then, American Girl has released dozens of dolls that belong in both the past and the present, including dolls honoring healthcare workers in 2020 and the World by Us line of dolls who are fighting for modern social justice causes.
Now, there’s a new American Girl in town: Claudie Wells. The fifteenth girl in the Historical Characters line, Claudie’s story is set in 1922 in Harlem, during the Harlem Renaissance. Though it was 100 years ago, her struggles and her joys are sure to resonate with the way that lots of kids feel today. Plus, her outfits are seriously stylish and might inspire you to pick up a fur coat and some sparkly skirts of your own to channel your inner flapper. It’s still the 20s now, after all.
How Claudie came to be
Brit Bennett, the bestselling author of several books, including The Vanishing Half, tweeted in September of 2020: “Give us a black American Girl doll set in the 90s and please let me write it.” American Girl responded that they were “totally fangirling.” That was the beginning of the collaboration that eventually led to Claudie. In the Meet Claudie book, 9-year-old Claudie is surrounded by talented people: her family and friends include a baker, a cornet player, a jazz singer, and a painter. Surrounded by so many people who shine, Claudie struggles to figure out if she has any special talents of her own. The book includes an introduction written by Bennett discussing how the book Meet Addy (the first Black Historical Character doll, whose story is set during the 1850s) influenced her to write Claudie’s story.
Claudie’s outfits and accessories
If you used to longingly turn the pages of the Pleasant Company catalogue as a kid and gaze at the beautiful outfits and dolls, you won’t be disappointed by Claudie, whose hair, face, and outfits are all simply stunning. There are lots of different outfits and accessories to choose from, but a few favorites:
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The basic Claudie set comes with the doll in a cute gingham dress and cardigan, a few accessories (including a purse with a Baby Ruth candy bar tucked inside), and a paperback copy of the Meet Claudie book, and her trusty companion, her dog Dizzy Dot. If you want just the doll and book, you can get them for $115. Like all the other Historical Character dolls, Claudie is 18 inches tall with a huggable body. Kids will love her boinging curls (tied up in a big green bow) and her bright eyes that look ready for the next adventure.
While her gingham dress is great for everyday life, this magenta flapper outfit truly puts Claudie in the spotlight. This outfit set includes a dress with black ruffles, a satin headband, and shiny silver tap shoes.
American Girl is known for accessories and outfits that fit the time and really add something to the character, and that’s completely true with this sweet pajama set, slippers, and silk head wrap. Claudie will be all set for a snuggly time in bed that won’t mess up her hairdo. Of course, if you get the pajama set, you might need to also get the bed:
Claudie’s bed is 21 inches long, so she and any other 18-inch American Girl doll will fit perfectly. And like her flapper outfit, it has ruffles: two ruffly pink pillows for decor sit on top of a cylindrical white pillow for comfort. It also has a real stuffed mattress pad and an embroidered bedspread that will make this a keepsake that could be passed down for generations to come.
Whether you were an American Girl collector yourself or just want your kid to have a way to bring the past to life, you won’t want to miss out on Claudie.