Sunday, December 13 2015 14:04

Holiday Wish Guide: AMERICAN GIRL's Maryellen Larkin - A Bridge between Past and Present...

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For nearly 30 years, AMERICAN GIRL has been the premiere line of 18" Dolls that kids want to have. Our girls' path has been one traveled by many others, starting with the 15" Bitty Baby collection geared toward kids 3+ (Addie has had one since 2013, and we just bought Finn her first at Mall of America this summer) and moving toward the larger dolls with more detailed backstories. Aside from being beautifully-detailed and built to be a lifelong companion, American Girl Dolls can teach, and the relaunched Historical line, now called BeForever, features a full assortment of dolls, accessories and books that delve into important eras throughout history. For 2015, American Girl released a doll based in a decade long-requested by fans and families - the 1950s - with the debut of Maryellen Larkin (previewed here), who is a featured pick in my 2015 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine!

Addie and Grandma

When our doll arrived earlier this Fall, I couldn't think of a better way to introduce her to Addie than to go to someone who was actually there in the decade from which the doll was inspired - my Mom, Grandma Cindy. With the doll hidden in the car, we took a  trip to Grandma's house where Maryellen Larkin would inspire a conversation on what it was like to be a little girl growing up in the 50's vs. being a little girl growing up in 2015.

Fun at Grandma's House

One of the most important factors in American Girl is the companion books, and while we haven't yet spent much time exploring that aspect with Maryellen, here's what the folks at American Girl have to say...

American Girl Books

Maryellen Larkin"Written by award-winning American Girl author Valerie Tripp, the Maryellen stories introduce readers ages 8 and up to a key cultural theme of the 1950s: conformity versus individuality. While Maryellen feels the pressure to conform to social standards, she also strives to stand out and be true to herself, even when that means going against expectations. Through Maryellen, Tripp shows how trends of the 1950s—such as the burgeoning of suburbia, "the baby boom," geographic and economic mobility, new technology (like TV and rockets), rock 'n' roll, and lingering postwar prejudice—shape the life of one girl."

One thing that getting out the old photo albums really drove home is how much our girls look like my Mom and her sister back in the 50s...


Maryellen Larkin is available exclusively at American Girl Place stores and online here in the U.S., and is also available at American Girl specialty boutiques at select Indigo™ and Chapters™ locations in Canada; and at El Palacio de Hierro in Mexico City.

Bonus: While these aren't official American Girl costumes, Maryellen Larkin has become a part of the normal routine here at Rock Father HQ, and that means playing Superhero on occasion... like Wonder Woman!


James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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