Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

The earliest hints of my own personal gayness date back to my interactions with Barbie — or, rather my Barbie’s interaction with my She-Ra: Princess of Power action figure. “Don’t save Etheria from Hordak and his Evil Horde today, She-Ra,” my Barbie would say. “Lets go to the beach together instead!” And off they would drive, holding hands in Barbie’s pink Corvette, Ken’s bare feet poking out of the trunk. My Cabbage Patch doll, Audrey Marie, appeared as straight as No. 2 Pencil until Rainbow Brite came to town — but we all know how that story ends.

For ages young girls have been playing out their fantasies with dolls, and none so much in the last 20 years as the American Girl characters manufactured by Mattel. In addition to representing a “girl-sized view” of different periods in American history with their attire and adornments, each American Girl doll gets a three-book publishing deal just for being manufactured! (Though, for children’s books, the stories are a little more devastating than one might hope.) This summer Kit Kittredge (of 1934) is even taking a turn on the silver screen in a Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, staring Oscar-nominee Abigail Breslin.

Kit Kittredge is a Great Depression-era character whose father is a World War I veteran. The movie’s marketing materials call her “resourceful, brave, determined, compassionate, bright, inquisitive and generous.” All qualities I would imagine come in very handy during the collapse of an entire country’s economy. (Or look good on a resume.) In Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, Kit struggles with her feelings of abandonment when her father moves away to find work, and then, lo! all of her family’s money is stolen. But does determined, inquisitive Kit Kittredge hang her head and wallow? No, she does not! Kit Kittredge thinks to herself, “Things could be worse; I could be American Girl Addy Walker circa 1864, a fugitive slave girl on the run from the plantation owners who split-up my family.” (See, I told you: if you’re looking for a cheerful little anecdote to go along with a freakishly-realistic doll, don’t go for the American Girls. Get a porcelain doll and write your own story on construction paper. There is a Native American Girl doll, pre-European Settlers, but I was afraid to even read her blurb on the web page for fear that someone had given her a smallpox-infested blanket.)

After thanking her lucky stars that she is only dealing with the Great Depression, Kit Kittredge decides to band together with her friends to fight the injustices of 1930s America through the power of words. Yep: little Kit goes to work for the local newspaper. All kinds of antics are sure to ensue as they are wont to do when you give a little girl a full-time job and a treehouse.

Jane Krakowski, Julia Ormond, Stanley Tucci, and Chris O’Donnell lend their assistance to Breslin in the Julia Roberts-produced film, which will open on July 2nd opposite Will Smith‘s Hancock.

Newsweek recently interviewed Abigail Breslin with some pint-sized questions about Kit Kittredge: An American Girl and about life in general. Does she like the American Girl dolls? She has all of them. (Wash the Native American Girl’s blanket, Abby!) Did she dye her hair for the movie? She wore a wig. What school subject does she hate? Math. What subject does she love? Lunch. Did her pet turtle come all the way from Russia? “No,” Breslin quipped. “It came all the way from 70th Street.”

Finally, the interviewer wanted to talk about Breslin about how she recently became an honorary Girl Scout. Do the Girl Scouts get badges like the Boy Scouts, he wanted to know. Abigail Breslin assured him that the Girl Scouts are even better than the Boy Scouts because they get badges and cookies.

What makes girls better than boys? Cookies, of course — and some other things Abigail Breslin is still a little too young to understand.

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