Tuesday, September 8, 2009

McDonalds Meets the American Girls

You may have noticed if you have young children in your family that the latest McDonalds Happy Meal promotion has featured the American Girl Series. This is the first time ever the American Girls have been featured as the toy given away with a child’s meal at a fast food restaurant. I have to say that this promotion is a welcome surprise from the usual cheap dispensable toy that is quickly forgotten faster than the Happy Meal promotion. This series of eight mini storybooks complete with paper dolls and crafts will keep girls playing and thinking for several hours after the meal has been digested. Most of the American Girls are featured the only ones missing is Samantha whose doll line has been “retired” by Mattel, who currently owns the American Girls, and as a result does not have a doll to peddle. The other girl missing is new-comer Rebecca but each storybook comes with a code that can be used on the Happy Meal website to access Rebecca’s information.
I have been lucky enough to get half of the series, the promotion sadly ends soon and many McDonalds have already gone throw their supply. Fortunately, I was able to get the Addy storybook. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Addy’s story line here is a brief overview. Addy Walker was born a slave on a South Carolina plantation, the story starts in 1864 when her father and older brother are sold deeper south. This separation convinces Addy’s mother that it is time for her and Addy to escape to the North, which they do but only after leaving Addy’s infant sister behind on the plantation in the care of older family members. The rest of the series covers Addy and her mother’s experiences in Philadelphia which include going to school for the first time, encountering racism and snobbery from both whites and free-born wealthy African Americans and the challenges of trying to piece back together a broken family in the midst of the Civil War. Because of its Civil War era topic and because the stories are truly wonderful Addy has always been one of my favorite American Girls. (My other favorites are Felicity from the American Revolution, Josefina whose story takes place in 1820s New Mexico, and new kid on the block Rebecca who grows up in 1910s New York tenement with her strong Jewish family.) The little storybook, if you can it that, the package of this toy is truly unique features a quite drawing of Addy taken from the cover of Meet Addy with an inlay cover of period correct cotton all of this is printed on sturdy cardboard the book is meant to be tied with a pretty blue ribbon that contrast nicely with the burgundy background. The book opens with an ad for the other girls with each girl’s illustration name and a one word description of their chief characteristic. Addy is described as “courageous,” on the flip side we get another book cover illustration, this time from Addy’s Surprise and the title “Meet Addy 1864.” What follows is a brief introductory layout of the first story detailing that Addy’s family were slaves in the South and that her father and brother had been sold and the difficult decision that Addy’s mother faced leaving baby Esther behind in the care of Uncle Solomon and Auntie Lula and ends with their arrival in the North. Missing from the narrative is mention of the Civil War, which is huge oversight since the war features so prominently through the books. The six pages are decorated with the beautiful illustrations found in Meet Addy and Addy Learns a Lesson which are a great delight to me because they are historically accurate, which shows that when pressed book publishers can find artists who can produce work that is both artistically pleasing and historically accurate which adds to the story and places the reader back in time. The next few pages are devoted to craft instructions whose accessories are included along followed a with matching game, 1860s jumping rhymes, riddles from the stories, and trivia from the books, the booklet concludes with an ad for the American Girl dolls and encourages girls to visit the American Girl website. The booklet then unfolds into beautifully illustrated backgrounds for the paper dolls that come in a back pocket. The two images included is a scene from the charity bazaar featured in Addy Saves the Day and on the reverse Addy’s schoolroom featured in many of the Addy books and short stories. These illustrations are beautiful and historically accurate; the attention to detail is amazing and has to be seen in person to truly appreciate. The paper dolls included feature Addy in several of the dresses from the books which include her Christmas dress, school dress, and her “Meet” dress from Meet Addy. With Addy comes her school nemesis Harriet, a strange choice by the editor since the other girls get their best friend and Addy had her friend Sarah and Harriet was a rich snob who came from a free born family who delighted to harass Addy for her “plantation” ways. Beside Harriet, Addy’s bird Sunny is also featured along with an oil lamp and stands for all the dolls. The set is complete with quilt block stickers that can be arranged on a cardboard quilt that can then be hanged with ribbon. Missing from this set is reusable stickers to be used on the backgrounds.
Regardless this is a beautiful set that is truly worth the price of the meal, McDonalds and Mattel outdid themselves in the creation of this promotion. This is one of the better Happy Meal toys and I hope that in the feature McDonalds will bring back the American Girls, with perhaps doll figurines (hint, hint). I highly recommend this to all who enjoy American history or the American Girls, so go out and find one before they are gone!

1 comment:

  1. I have 2 of the Addie books and wouldn't part with them. They were great help when I had time to reenact but now my girl is into 4H and it keeps us busy all summer.
    Take Care ,
    Roxanne ( central PA)