First off, if you’re looking for a complete encyclopedia of every American Girl doll and item ever made, this is not it. But if you’re looking for a clear timeline of the American Girl Company, an overview of all the historical doll characters, tons of interesting facts and even more gorgeous pictures, this is the book you want!
This is a big, hefty, hardback book. Every page is covered with pictures, meaning even young American Girl fans will find plenty to keep them interested even if they can’t read the accompanying text.
The book starts off with the history of how the American Girl Company got started along with a timeline that I personally found fascinating. It detailed when each new doll was launched as well as when various American Girl doll lines were re-launched or renamed. For example, their doll line which is currently called ‘Truly Me’ went through multiple name changes over the years and each change is mentioned. There’s also a section on how the various doll boxes and packaging has changed over the years. Little girls may not find these early parts very interesting but adult collectors will love the helpful information.
The book then moves on to information about each of the historical doll characters from what is now called their BeForever line. The dolls are ordered by historical placement and not by production date – i.e Kaya (who’s story is based in 1764) comes first even though she was a later doll introduced in 2002. Each doll has a 2 to 4 page spread detailing her story and the time in which she lived. There’s also some background information on how each particular doll was made or the research that went into designing her. The authors did a great job combining information about the actual doll along with historical details about time in which she lived. All of the current BeForever dolls are included: Kaya (1764), Felicity & Elizabeth (1774), Caroline (1812), Josefina (1824), Marie-Grace & Cecile (1853), Kirsten (1854), Addy (1864), Samantha & Nellie (1904), Rebecca (1914), Kit & Ruthie (1934), Molly & Emily (1944), Maryellen (1954), Melody (1964) and Julie & Ivy (1974).
Next the book provides information on all of the Girl of The Year dolls, listed by their release date. The layout is the same as for the BeForever dolls with information on the characters, their backstories, and tidbits on the creation of each doll and her playsets.
The next section of the book gives a brief covering of the Truly Me dolls currently available:
With all the dolls out of the way, the guide then goes on to talk about all the extras – playsets, pets, clothing and accessories. This is basically a collage of their catalogs through the years, but there’s some interesting trivia and information scattered about such as what the largest playset ever made was and the first pets ever released.
The book ends with some profiles on a few of the designers behind the American Girl dolls and a short glossary.
Conclusion: ‘Ultimate Guide’ is a bit misleading as this book does not cover all of the products made by the American Girl Company – for example, there’s no mention of the mini dolls or when they were even released. However as a clear overview of the dolls both past and present, as well as a general look at what the company has to offer (and has offered in the past), this is a nice guide. I think any collector, young or old, would definitely enjoy perusing this book!
If you’re interested in this book, you can buy it from Amazon here 🙂