Black History Month For Children: Learning Black History Through the American Girl Beforever Collection

1 Feb

Martin Luther King’s birthday has passed, and black history month is here, and so the focus may be on “black pride”.

Many children today really don’t understand their history, or rather don’t care about it, whether they are African American, Hispanic, Caucasian, Asian, Native American, Jewish,  etc. It’s a shame that I even had to witness African American children fall asleep during Dr. King movies. I’ve witnessed this recently at a school. They really take for granted the privileges they have obtained thanks to him. MLK would roll over in his grave if he could see how some of our young African American children are today.

The American Girl dolls and books to me are a great way to educate children about their history in a way that relates to them. Through the eyes of three nine to ten year old girls, children can learn to value their history, to be proud of themselves, and to work hard to achieve great things. I’m proud to announce that American Girl has added three African American characters to their Beforever line: Cecile, Addy, and Melody.

I’m not telling you to go out and purchase an expensive doll for black history month. But maybe you could read a story with your child, or get them one of the books from the library. Some parents don’t realize how important it is for children to know their history, but knowing what others have gone through helps them to develop admirable and likable qualities, such as compassion, empathy, understanding, and intelligence. They realize that everything isn’t going to be handed to them, and that it is up to them to make a future for themselves, no matter how challenging life gets. Children who understand history learn to appreciate what they have and to be content. Every privilege we have today-modern technology and political/social freedoms-we have because someone from the past worked so that we could. We also look to the past to learn for the future.

All of the characters in the American Girls series have something to teach kids. This month, we’ll be focusing on the African American characters.

Meet Cecile

Cecile‘s stories take place in 1853, centering around New Orleans, Louisiana during the worst outbreak of Yellow Fever in the city. While the story is fiction, many of the events in the stories really happened, such as the Yellow Fever epidemic and the city-wide Day of Prayer. Cecile is a wealthy French girl of color living in the French Quarter. Cecile shows a new side to African American history. While most children know of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, many do not know that there were rich black girls living prosperous lifestyles in the South. They are often not taught about the rich black culture that has existed in the USA prior to the Civil War. Cecile’s story focuses on the struggles she faces trying to help her family and her city find healing during a traumatic epidemic that hushes the lively spirit of New Orleans.

Though Cecile’s stories are shared with Marie-Grace, a poor white girl, Cecile still has a significant role in each story.

There may be several things that may concern readers when observing reviews of the stories. I always say consider what you can take from the series rather than focus on the negative. Perhaps I can give some suggestions that may make the introduction to these American Girl books easier.

“I don’t think this is good for black history month. Her stories are shared with a white girl.”

Cecile’s stories teach several things about black culture, even though her stories are shared with a white girl. While most of the world thinks most black people were either poor slaves or oppressed individuals who could only find poor housing and poor education, Cecile’s stories introduce a whole new side to black culture. Denise Lewis Patrick herself said that while researching, she found it surprising how freely people of color interacted with other races and how some black people lived in lavish circumstances.

Having a white girl share her story further teaches girls how different things were for black people in New Orleans before “Americans” entered the city. Though places were still segregated, people often mingled together at public events. And black people often had no strong desire to mingle with white people because it truly was “separate but equal”. Schools, ballrooms, stores, and other places were just as amazing for black people as they were for white people!

Slavery still existed, and of course slaves felt inferior. But wealthy black people owned large plantations in New Orleans full of slaves as well.

Through Cecile’s friendship with Marie-Grace, both girls learned to set aside their differences and see each other for the “content of their characters”. This is not only a good lesson for black girls, but girls of other ethnic backgrounds, too. I think this was exactly what MLK would’ve wanted. I think the series still teaches black history while bridging the gaps between two different races.

Some people may be concerned that Marie-Grace outshines Cecile in these stories. I can assure you that isn’t the case. Three books are dedicated to each girl. And Cecile plays a huge role throughout Marie-Grace’s stories as well. Just seeing how Marie-Grace reacts to Cecile can also give insight into the character and the time period.

“This book seems to gloss over the actual struggles blacks have endured in the USA.”

This series shows a new side to African American culture. Black history doesn’t only consist of struggle and hardship. Just as it’s important for children to recognize how hard black people fought for equality, it’s important for children to know that they can rise above any oppression if they work hard enough. It’s important for black children to recognize that they also have a rich history with a rich culture.

Many black people may not be able to relate to this era in time. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have anything to offer children. This is an opportunity for them to actually learn.

Cecile also speaks French. This shows that African Americans girls of that time period were also well-rounded and quite cultured. Who knows. This may encourage other black children to learn French. Even though these stories don’t teach about racism largely, the books have many other things to teach children regarding black history and culture.

“Cecile’s personality seems a little spoiled and self-centered.”

The American Girl stories, like any stories in the world, are full of a diverse group of characters. Of the three black characters offered in the line, Cecile stands out. I think it’s great that she isn’t “Miss Perfect” in every way, just like real girls. But throughout the series, Cecile learns to be more thoughtful, compassionate, and generous. Children today are pretty privileged in comparison to many girls who lived in the past. We all are! Children today don’t have to work. They can go to school. Most children can ask their parents for toys, games, I-pads, cell phones, new clothes and shoes, and other luxury items. They are very much like Cecile, where the smallest things can mean a lot to them. I feel that Cecile relates to black children in this way.

I think Cecile’s stories can help children of all backgrounds step outside of their comfort zones and learn about other cultures. These stories promote tolerance and diminish racism and cultural ignorance. By promoting these values, we establish peace. The next generation can move into the future with open minds if we help them open their worlds. Why not start with a story like Cecile’s?

Events like the Yellow Fever brought different people together, even those who were unlikely to be friends. This shows that all of mankind has the ability to pull together when it matters most. During disastrous events like Hurricane Katrina, another event that struck New Orleans hard, and other natural disasters, children can relate to the struggles Cecile and Marie-Grace had, but can also find healing much the same way the girls did. These stories can help young girls cope with these events through child-size perspectives.

Reading along with the American Girl curriculum guides can really help teachers and parents as they read the stories to children: Cecile’s Book Guide

Meet Addy

Addy‘s stories take place from 1864 to 1866, centering around Raleigh, North Carolina and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the Civil War. While the story is fiction, many of the events in the stories really happened, such as the Civil War, Robert Lee’s Surrender, and The Grand Review. Slavery also existed, as we all should know by now. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was supposed to have freed the slaves in 1863, the year before Addy’s stories, much of the South saw themselves as a separate nation. So they ignored the Proclamation. Some slaves didn’t know about it because they couldn’t read about the news and no one would share information with slaves for fear they would run. But word eventually got around, prompting many slaves to try and escape their plantations. Many slaves were eventually freed by Union soldiers. Addy was raised a slave girl during this time. She and her mother planned a daring escape North in her stories. Addy’s stories focus on her life as a slave and her struggles as she and her family try to build a life for themselves as newly freed people of color.

There may be several things that may concern readers when observing reviews of the stories. I always say consider what you can take from the series rather than the negative. Perhaps I can give some suggestions that may make the introduction to the American Girl books easier.

“My child is very sensitive. Some of the things in the stories are too harsh for young children.”

Think about this: While your child is too “sensitive” to hear about real events, little girls like Addy actually had to suffer through torture and pain during this era. No one was around to “shield” them. Many children today go through such things, especially in other countries. “Sensitive” children are the ones that can make a difference in the lives of those suffering. I don’t think it would be right to try to “protect” a child from learning about events that can help them become a mature, compassionate adult. It’s best to protect them from things that will actually make her bratty and spoiled or physically harmed. Addy’s stories may hurt your child, but that shows that the stories reach your child. It’s not hurting them in a negative way. It’s teaching them to appreciate their freedoms. It will inspire the child to think outside of the box and grow a love of tolerance rather than hate. More than likely, your child knows wrong from right, and with you reading the stories with her, you can explain how some of these things are wrong.

While there are a few sensitive moments throughout the series, there are many happy and positive moments, too. There are also scenes that children can relate to. If you can get over the beginning of Addy’s stories, she really does have some happy endings.

“My child is still learning English. Addy doesn’t speak the proper English and I don’t want her speaking the way Addy does.”

“I can’t read this book. The vocabulary is horrible.”

Well we’ve reached a dilemma. How can someone teach the realities of slavery to a child when slaves didn’t really speak the way we think they should have?

This is exactly what has always been the problem and why black history is hardly taught in schools or anywhere else. And this is exactly what slave masters wanted long ago.

Addy and other slaves couldn’t receive an education, so they learned English by ear. Because of this, white people would look down on them. They wouldn’t hire them for jobs or listen to them when they spoke up on political issues. They sounded “uneducated”. So even though many were freed, they were still barred from living prosperous lives because they were looked down on. This was a part of racism.

I don’t think that parents should encourage such prejudiced attitudes by refusing to read Addy’s stories to their children. I think instead this presents an opportunity to teach your children how valuable education really is. After all, this is a history lesson, not an English one. History is taught through the accounts of many people, whether they spoke the way we think they should have or not. Even museums have journal entries written by people who don’t quite speak what we would consider “proper”. If your child already recognizes that Addy’s speech isn’t quite right, then there’s no reason to be afraid that Addy’s stories will make him or her speak “horribly”. They must already be at an age where they know the correct grammar. So, it’s your job to help your child understand Addy’s situation and help the child to understand that Addy really wanted to learn so people wouldn’t look down on her. And you can encourage your child not to look down on people just because of the way they speak, act, or dress. Perhaps you can also discuss how her snobby desk partner, Harriet, looked down on Addy for those very reasons, which further shows how hard it was for newly freed people.

The reality is that slaves lived this way. If you hide it from your child, you are allowing the child to grow up ignorant anyway. What would you rather do: Read about history and have a discussion about things the child doesn’t understand or prevent the child from learning about an important part of history to shelter the child from Addy’s “speech”?

Some time in your child’s life, your child may run across people who don’t speak English so well, even in school. There are no slaves in the USA today, but there are immigrants that come into the United States. Perhaps this can open up a discussion about helping students who don’t speak English well or a discussion about children who have been barred from receiving a decent education in the USA and worldwide. Perhaps you can encourage your child to develop a tolerant and empathetic attitude.

I want to add that while Addy and her family don’t speak English “properly”, the narration is quite solid.

Addy’s books are targeted to girls 8 and up, an age where they can understand the material, so reading it to any child younger would make things more complicated as well.

“Addy fits all stereotypes and makes all black people seem poor and uneducated.”

Let’s face it. Whether you hate or like stereotypes, this was the way many African Americans lived in this time. This isn’t like some Disney princess story. This is based on real history. Most of ALL black people came to America as slaves or indentured servants, and they all had to fight to be seen as “human” in the USA. There is no reason to be ashamed of that. It only shows how strong African Americans really were and only shows how far black people have come. To have endured such oppression and still thrive and survive is something we all should admire. There are other African American characters in the line that aren’t slaves, but we still have to face the fact that slavery existed. There’s no sense in brushing it under the rug, as the saying goes.

Though black people didn’t receive a “European-style” education, they weren’t dumb. They had to be very clever to outwit their slave masters and escape. Addy is very smart herself. She struggled hard to learn, but she worked hard and learned fast. She was able to rise to the top of her class in less than a month, even winning a spelling bee! She kept her mind sharp by solving riddles and guessing games. Her father was clever enough to devise a plan to help his family escape. Though slave masters tried to keep slaves ignorant, they couldn’t take away their ability to learn. Children today who struggle in school can learn from Addy’s example. Addy struggled but, by studying and asking for help, she was able to be a great student.

There are also black characters in Addy’s stories that have shown they were not poor and uneducated. Miss Dunn was a teacher and Addy’s desk partner, Harriet, was the smartest and wealthiest in the class. But should we look down on people who are poor and uneducated?

Addy’s stories teach girls not to judge people by outer appearances, status, or even the way someone carries themselves. By judging based on such superficial information alone, we create the same dividing lines that destroyed our nation during the Civil War. The North looked down on the South. The South looked down on the slaves. None of the sides could understand each other.

I really feel that through Addy’s stories children can recognize how lucky they are to have freedoms other children didn’t have. They can also learn tolerance. Help open your children’s minds by sharing Addy’s stories.

And she’s such a sweet girl to boot.

Reading along with the American Girl curriculum guides can really help teachers and parents as they read the stories to children: Addy’s Book Guide

american girl melody

Melody is American Girl’s newest African American character. Her stories take place from 1963 to (possibly) 1964. So far, only one book has been released from her collection, just in time for MLK’s birthday and Black History Month! Her stories focus on life in Detroit, Michigan during the Civil Rights Movement and 1960’s culture. While the story is fiction, many of the events really happened, such as The Walk To Freedom, The March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom, the Children’s Crusade, and the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing. There may be more historical events in the book that follows. The second book will arrive in stores in July. Melody is a normal, suburban African American girl. She goes to school, plays with her friends, and attends her church every Sunday, much like children do today. She comes from a large family (Baby Boom) and shares a connection with each member of her family. Her stories focus on black people’s struggle for equality in the USA and the role children played in the struggle for civil rights.

There may be several things that may concern readers when observing reviews of the stories. I always say consider what you can take from the series rather than the negative. Perhaps I can give some suggestions that may make the introduction to the American Girl books easier.

“The events in these stories are too scary for my child.”

Keep in mind that the children in these stories have had to face far more than reading a book about harsh realities. Many of these children fought for equality bravely and deserve to be honored. Many of these children gave up their lives. Perhaps these stories can be inspirational for your child. Perhaps these stories can teach your child to appreciate the freedoms we have in the USA. Push your children to inculcate love in their hearts for people who are different. Instead of shielding them from reality, help them to cultivate qualities that can help prevent some of the tragic things that happen in the story.

Many children in the 1960s were like children today. They were innocent. But events happened that tore children’s lives apart. It’s better when their parents hand it to them with an open discussion rather than “protecting” them with false expectations and lies or worse-the power of “omission”. There are ways to teach children important events without traumatizing them. There are ways to teach them about history in an empowering way. But we can’t act like these things didn’t happen. It’s best to teach our children early, when they are impressionable, events that will help them grow into respectful, compassionate adults.

You can’t get any more censored than the American Girls. Of all the history books in the world, they truly give history in a way that doesn’t sugar-coat the truth, but also in a way that relates to children. Don’t be afraid to introduce harsh subjects to children.

Still, these stories are geared towards children who are 8 and up. Though events can happen to any child, keep in mind that is the target age.

“I’m apprehensive about reading the Civil Rights era. Most stories and accounts make all white people seem evil.”

White people may have this concern. I understand it may be hard to face such evil scenes mentioned during the stories. Everyone knows that this wasn’t the fault of all white people. Still, such hatred existed and such attitudes even exist today. Looking to the past is important because it helps us to fix our mistakes and create a better future for humankind. If we all worked together and overcame our differences, imagine what we really could accomplish as a HUMAN race. Of course, we don’t want to harbor on the past, otherwise we’ll never create a future. Still, by reading about the Civil Rights Movement, we learn to develop love and tolerance. That is the black story. Through all of the African American characters, love and tolerance are important themes.

Civil Rights wasn’t just for black people, either. Imagine how many white people couldn’t marry a black person, or an Asian person, or someone Hispanic, even if they were in love with them. Segregation and racist laws even infringed upon the rights of white people! There are many white people who suffered and died because they said something that seemed “tolerant” towards other races or spoke out against racism.

Other nationalities were also oppressed and benefited from the Civil Rights Movement, such as the Native Americans, Asian Americans, Jewish families, and those of Latin American descent. Black people were the leaders of the movement, but it wasn’t a movement that only benefited black people. This is why it was an important event in the USA.

Women may have also felt inspired by the Civil Rights Movement. Many women had to push through gender boundaries in the 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Many women today are still striving to make their mark on the world, so girls today can still relate to this movement..

Why did people have to fight for something so simple as civil rights? This is a question you could ask your children to make the topic easier.

Luckily, for you more sensitive souls, Melody lives in the North where legal segregation no longer existed. Still, racism did.

Aside from the topics on racism, though, Melody is actually a normal girl that I think any children can relate to. She likes flowers, music, getting pampered at a salon and spa, and spending time with her sisters. In fact, I think she and American Girl’s Maryellen, the 1950s red headed character, have a lot in common. If people didn’t make such a big deal about race, I imagine girls like the two of them could have been the best of friends!

Children may find that the events in Melody’s stories mirror some events they hear on the news in modern times. Melody’s stories can help children transition into serious subjects that they may even hear in their daily lives. Events in the story can help girls cope with modern day events that have affected children, such as the Sandy Hook tragedy or even some of the rioting going on right now on behalf of race and against police brutality or even the Charleston church tragedy. Children may have questions about such events, and Melody goes through some of the same trials children face today-only she lived in the 1960s!

Reading along with the American Girl curriculum guides can really help teachers and parents as they read the stories to children: Melody’s Book Guide

Even if you readers don’t want to jump on the American Girl book bandwagon, don’t forget to honor all of the black leaders who,through intelligence and courage, found a way to make life more free for everyone. If you ever want to learn about black history, now is the time to do so.

Though all of these girls come from different times, their feelings, struggles, and victories are very similar to children today.

[NEWS] f(x) Official Fanclub Name!

31 Jan

MeU! SPREAD THE WORD f(x) FANS!!!

Source: [NEWS] f(x) Official Fanclub Name!

[NEWS] f(x) Official Fanclub Name!

31 Jan

SPREAD THE WORD! f(x)’s official fan club name has been revealed!!!

f(♥)

MeU!

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Bratz Controversy: Fans in Outrage Over “Female Voice” in Bratz Music Festival Vibes Commercial

28 Jan

bratz mfv

Bratz has revealed their all-new Bratz line: Music Festival Vibes. The new commercial brings back some of the edgy “funk” that was present pre-2007. The dolls have been “spiced” up, bringing the Bratz at least one step forward towards their original glory days. The outfits are a little more original and gaudy than outfits that were released last year.

Bratz fans were given a chance to vote on which voice they felt would fit the new and “funky” Bratz Music Festival Vibe commercial best.

Many fans were shocked to find that the “female voice” was chosen over the male voice.

Controversy

According to most fans, the male voice clearly “won”. They felt that MGA took it upon themselves to choose the female, disregarding the voting. Some fans see this as a sign that the company cares nothing about fans’ viewpoints.

MGA claims on Facebook and Twitter that “voting and research” shows them that the female voice was preferred.

Voting Process

Through some Youtube videos, like this one:

fans had to “like” to vote for a male and “comment” to vote for a female in this video. However, many fans who wanted a male also commented…No one is sure whether that affected the voting process or not.

Fans could also vote on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

No one is sure how MGA came to their final decision. Did they just observe how many comments were IN the comments’ section without actually reading the comments? If this is the case, they missed all of the comments that actually said, “Male”. Did they do a vote among the company and included their own votes?Did they read blogs and message boards about it?

The “research” that MGA is talking about remains unknown.

I know I never posted the voting process on this blog, regrettably. After skimming through comments, it seemed like most people chose the male…

Why did fans want a male voice instead of a female voice?

It’s the same reason why people wanted “Nerf” (the company who came up with the Super Soaker) to make “Nerf Rebelle” for girls.

Many people felt that if any doll line could break social-gender boundaries, the Bratz was the group of girls that could. There are many MALE Bratz fans as well. They felt this was the perfect opportunity to show the world that it’s okay for males to like dolls, just as it’s okay for females to like sports. If they had put a male voice in the commercial, it would’ve sounded “edgier”, like the Wild Life Safari commercial. It would’ve been revolutionary because most doll commercials have “female voices” promote the commercials. It would’ve been original.

Now, they are leaving it open for the competition to take the most ingenious idea ever and run with it. This could’ve been an idea that could really promote the Bratz.

But there were some fans that wanted a female voice. After all, females can be “edgy”, too. Many young girls thought it sounded as if the Bratz themselves were singing the song. They also felt it didn’t sound as “creepy” (?). Some fans liked the “sassy” feeling in the girls’ tone of voice.

My thoughts

I’ve given up on the possibility that MGA could make the Bratz the revolutionary line it used to be. I feel that having a male voice, considering how original it is, should’ve been the main choice and shouldn’t even have been up for debate or discussion. If MGA wants to put Bratz on the map, they are going to have to learn to take risks, as they once did. They need to start looking for innovative ways to promote the Bratz and help them stand out.

Nowadays, people are paying attention to things that “break social rules”. People want to see something “new”. Why do they think Frozen is such a big deal? It passes the Bechdel test. This is also why Frozen’s dolls are (arguably) having more success than most of the dolls in toy aisles.

But MGA seems to think (I should say, based on their choices and actions) that has more to do with the fact that they are two strong “female” characters. It’s not just that. The dolls represent something that is RARE in cinema. The Bechdel test suggests that there be “two females, who talk about something, other than a man.” Frozen passes this test.

Among doll commercials, it’s quite common to hear female voices narrate for dolls. Where is the “revolution” in that?

I think too many people shame males who like dolls. That kind of commercial would send a very positive message about accepting people’s differences and it would make male fans feel “included”.

Still, I think the female voice itself sounds really good. It sounds like a “Bratz-y” song. It’s much better than the other commercials for Bratz. I’m actually really impressed. I’m really impressed with the Bratz Music Festival Vibes line itself.

Now, all they need to do is bring back the “glossy eyes” and the Bratz will be back to normal!

So, readers, what do you think? Do you think MGA made the right choice? Do you think MGA should have chosen the male voice? Leave me a comment and let me know! (And no, this won’t go into the voting process. It’s over. XD)

OR

 

MGA should just release both! How about it? ;)

Should American Girl Sell ‘American Boy’ dolls?

15 Jan

american girl logo

Every once in a while, someone will come up with the suggestion that there should be American Boy dolls created by the American Girl, LLC company.

The American Girl brand is well-known for their historical “Beforever” and contemporary “Truly Me” lines of dolls designed as little girls (different from Barbie, Ever After High, Disney Princesses) with inspiring stories. The brand has always focused on girls since 1986 when the concept was first released to the world.

However, recently, there has been a sudden “push” for toy companies to be more “inclusive”. This means that people are tired of the generic, standard dolls that have always been included among toy options. If the toy companies or some of their lines are directed to boys, people want them to include “girl” toys. If a company has primarily targeted their toys to girls, people want “boy” toys. If the collection only includes white characters, people want characters of other races. If the collection focuses on one country, people want other nationalities and cultures included. People want to diminish prejudice this way. They want to bridge the gap between differences and make things more equal and fair.

American Girl fans, since the 1990s really, have all been wondering if American Girl would include “American Boys”. Back then, that would’ve been considered a bad marketing move. But with the recent popularity of Frozen and My Little Pony toys among males, people are starting to consider it.

Along with that, with so many women pushing to for male-directed toys, like the “Nerf” toys, to include girl toys, “girl” toys are being questioned as well. Should we exclude anyone from enjoying these toys?

Although there’s nothing wrong with girls wanting nerf water guns or boys wanting an American Girl doll regardless of the gender direction (after all, American Girl doesn’t have to include American BOY dolls in order for boys to buy from the same brand and nerf toys never had to turn into Nerf Rebelle in order for girls to like Nerf products), some children want toys that represent them more personally.

Many of you might ask: ARE any boys interested in products like American Girl? Would American Boys sell to male audiences?

Though polls and surveys can answer this question more conclusively, from my experience, there are boys who like the American Girl dolls. Several readers on my blog, who are male, enjoy dolls such as Bratz and American Girl. These kinds of dolls appeal to males. While Bratz is edgier, American Girl has history involved with it, which relates to humans the world over. Many boys have walked into American Girl Place with their families in awe at the remarkable array of clothing and accessories, especially the ones that go with the historical dolls. American Girl’s Beforever line also comes with books that make history more exciting for kids.

There are many different reasons why many people want “boy” dolls.

  • People want “positive role models” for their sons

There are toys out there for boys (though many kids are consumed with tablets and video games), but they are all action figures. They all inspire courage and action in boys, but no valuable non-violent qualities like kindness and compassion. There are also hardly any boy toys where “little boys” are the main characters. So when little boys, at an impressionable age, walk into the American Girl stores, yes, they see dolls designed like girls, but they also see dolls that are designed to look like kids their OWN AGE.

  • Girls (and toy collectors) want “boy dolls”, too.

Barbie has Ken. Bratz have Bratz Boyz. Monster High and Ever After High have boy dolls. Frozen dolls have Kristoff (and Olaf). There are girls who have brothers or male friends in their lives and want to play out scenarios with their boy toys involved. People are also interested in how boys dressed in the past. It would make for an interesting buy for adult toy collectors as well, who lately make up nearly half of the toy industry’s consumers.

The only problem is most people like that American Girl dolls are empowering without having “boyfriends” or other male figures to help their line. Some people like that it’s a brand exclusively for girls. Most history books are mainly dominated by male figures. American Girl not only tells about history from the perspective of females, but from the perspective of little girls at that.

Some parents are also not comfortable with their girls playing “boyfriend/girlfriend”.

Still, males influence girls every day. It would still be interesting to have it in the brand for many people.

Okay, so how can the American Girl company accomplish this?

American Girl has always been for girls. That’s what the brand is popular for. How can this company introduce a “boy” line of toys without taking away what the brand stands for? People have had several suggestions:

  • Create “male friends” from some of the already-told Beforever stories.
  • Or creating a new “Girl of the Year” with a “Boy of the Year” as a best friend/brother doll.
  • Create a whole new line of historical boy characters that match the times already represented, just from a male perspective.
  • Focus on creating contemporary (modern) dolls for boys like Truly Me.
  • An exclusive line with books, like Hopscotch Hill dolls or Girls of Many Lands, with dolls that are slightly smaller than the 18” dolls so that they can be distinct.
  • Customizable dolls, similar to Truly Me, but where you can choose from an array of historical AND modern fashions and accessories as well as different ethnic molds.
  • Release a Limited Edition Boy doll every year.

Beforever Boys

Using the male characters from the already-written Beforever line can shorten the time it takes to create a male character. Many fans are already familiar with characters like Stirling from the Kit series, TJ from Julie’s series, or Davy and Wayne from Maryellen’s series. Though Kaya has Two Hawks and Fox Tail, trying to get their fashions correct without being “offensive” would be challenging, considering throughout the summer boys mostly wore breechcloths. And I don’t think those two boys are the best role models. If they’d kept Kirsten and Molly, they may have had more options (though I felt Ricky was a horrible little boy). Considering Kirsten and Molly were archived, the boys from their series would not be included either, decreasing the number of options. That presents another problem: If they decide to archive the Beforever girl, the boy is going to go, too. Do we really want a short-term thing? With American Girl constantly trying to make room for new dolls, any of the girls are liable to go and then we’ll still be without an inclusive line of boy dolls. We already saw what happened to the Best Friend dolls.

Further, there would not be much diversity with just those four boys released as all of them are white. Eventually, as they are even doing with the current Beforever and Girl of the Year line, people will be pushing for more diversity. This was also why the Best Friend dolls didn’t go over well. Only some American Girls got best friends, which meant more fashions and accessories from the time period for the white dolls, while others seemed empty in comparison. Most of the best friends were white with just one being an Asian doll. The Best Friend collection lacked diversity.

There are American Girls who don’t have ANY main male characters around their age, like Josefina. We would never really have a Mexican historical male character if we were relying on Josefina’s story for inspiration.

Even if there were enough boys to go around, there weren’t that many clothing options for boys in the past. Boys were simpler than girls historically and it’s hard enough to get some of the American Girl Beforever characters to look appealing as it is (this is why they still haven’t designed a Pilgrim yet). Appealing to the general demographic would be challenging. A “best friend” male doll would not give girls the same options that a “best friend” girl doll would.

To put it all bluntly, they can’t go far with male characters from the book series, just as they couldn’t go far with the Best Friends.

Boy of the Year

I like the idea of American Girl creating a “Boy of the Year”. But that boy will only last a year. What will happen to the little boys that come into the brand the following year only to discover that the doll has been discontinued? That takes us back to square one. Still, this would be great as a test run. However, considering American Girl only has one year to sell these dolls to meet their financial quota, I doubt they will take that risk. American Girl doesn’t even have an African American Girl of the Year yet because they’re too afraid “she won’t sell”.

The All-New Historical line

This would be an amazing alternative to the American Girl Beforever brand. The real question is, how far would they be willing to take this line?

If they want to take it as far as their current Beforever line, which includes accessories and books, the two lines would end up being competitors for the company’s attention. Dealing with TWO historical lines is a challenge.

They would also have to decide what time periods they could use for the boys, which would take years. It took years to build the original Beforever line. It will take years to build a line like this.

This may also take them away from “what the brand stands for”. By focusing on boys and their adventures in time, this company will no longer be a brand mostly focused girls. I feel we desperately need history taught from the perspective of normal women and girls (and not just from queens and political leaders).

I feel that it would be best to come out with just five boys from the past. But we know how that’s going to turn out. Eventually, kids will ask for more.

One of the lines will suffer. My bet is on the boys’ line. This might be a great idea when they’ve covered every single time they possibly could with the original Beforever line.

Modern American Boys

This would be a great idea. They could also have various head and facial types. I see this being more attractive to girls. Most of the boys seem to like the historical part of American Girl. They don’t care about fashion for fashion’s sake. It has to be purposeful. American Girl Beforever dolls’ purpose is to educate about the time period, even through the fashions.

Still, I think having items, like miniature footballs or cooking sets would appeal to boys just as much as the items appeal to girls. It’s great for playtime. Children of both genders have a wide imagination and want to play out their lives.

Exclusive Boys

An exclusive boy toy line, like Hopscotch Hill dolls or Girls of Many Lands, would be good. They may be shorter than 18 inches and probably less expensive. This would be a great way to introduce male characters into the brand.

The issue is whether or not they should be historical dolls or modern ones.

One without the other would make the line feel like it’s missing something. They may come with books, but I can’t see girls buying dolls that don’t connect with the main American Girl dolls in any way. Most of American Girl’s off-shoot lines failed. They would really have to promote this kind of line if they expect success.

Customizable Dolls

This is the best option in my opinion. If American Girl is going to step into the “boy doll” field, allowing an array of playtime options would be the smartest move.

I think the boy dolls should start off with five or six customizable molds to represent various races and ethnic groups, similar to the Bitty Baby line.

Customers should be able to pick between fashion packs that include both historical and contemporary (modern) fashion with an array of accessories that match a boy’s life.

I really think this would be the best for playtime. Though books couldn’t be included in this kind of line, which is a shame because it wouldn’t inspire boys to develop a strong character, it would still be a lot of fun.

Limited Edition

This would also be a pretty good idea. This way, the boy dolls won’t take over and change the “direction” the company is trying to go in. Just like “Girl of the Year”, they could have a separate boy toy line with one doll every year. It could sell out in one year, but then that would cut into the Girl of the Year marketing strategy.

It could be one new historical boy every year, choosing a new time zone every time. He may come with one already-written book or a tell-it-yourself sort of thing. That would go over better and it wouldn’t be modern like Girl of the Year. They would be the most unique boy dolls on the market.

They would still take over the Girl of the Year marketing strategy, but at least they would be different.

Still, a modern boy would probably sell better to the main demographic, just the like the modern girls do. To create a historical boy takes three years of research as well as tons of money. It would be difficult to release one every year.

Either way, though, they would interfere with Girl of the Year marketing. One is going to have to go.

Beforever Transformed Into Boys

Reader Yousef, who is a 10 year old boy, made the suggestion that the company could transform the Beforever collection into boys. For example, instead of Samantha, she could be Samuel, and her books could be told from a boy’s perspective. Perhaps all the genders could be switched in the story. This would change things significantly. For instance, Aunt Cornelia was a female suffragist. As a man, she more than likely wouldn’t have been too interested. But perhaps Uncle Gard as a female would be more interested!

I really love this idea. What makes it better is that a boy from the target age group would be interested, too! Male fans are already familiar with the characters. This is actually something I would buy! Honestly, knowing the kind of fan I am, I wouldn’t consider the above options quite as interesting as this one!

However, reader Raygirl also makes some good points. While this would be a wildly popular idea, the time it takes to create these boys would greatly interfere with making new Beforever characters. Though they have already researched the times, they would have to learn a little more about boys in these time periods. It may not take three years, but it may take some time. They would have to hire writers to recreate the two volumes. Then the time and money it takes to manufacture these dolls! It took American Girl a little over 20 years to build the brand to where it is today.

Unfortunately, male dolls will only be made for the current Beforever characters, and not the archived ones like Molly, Felicity, Kirsten, Marie-Grace, and Cecile. :( That makes me dislike this idea more. And this would prevent archival as they try to sell the boys in enough time. This means it would stop them from creating new Beforever characters.

Still, this is the only idea I would actually support. Maybe when they’ve run out of ideas for the main Beforever line, they can start designing for a male version.

To wrap this up, what do readers think? Do you think an American Boy doll is a good idea? If so, which option above sounds like the best one? If you don’t like the idea, share why you don’t!

Search up ideas for American Boy dolls!

 

Lea Clark, Girl of the Year 2016, Takes Us to Brazil and Helps Girls Overcome Their Fears

9 Jan

Lea, Girl of the Year 2016, is another destination character like Grace Thomas Girl of the Year 2015. This time, the destination is tropical Brazil.

Lea Clark, the 2016 Girl of the Year, dives in to
new adventures and explores what’s in her heart.

She discovers it takes courage to do something you’ve never done before.

Lea’s interests are animals and photography.

LeaDivesIn_Cover

Lea Dives In: In her second book, Lea Clark is all set for an animal-discovery adventure! She’s never been to a rainforest before, and her mind is filled with exciting thoughts about the animals she’ll get to see—and the pictures she’ll get to take deep in the jungle. During a hike with her brother through the Amazon rainforest, they discover a baby sloth that is badly injured. Lea quickly decides she must do all she can to help the little sloth survive. But as she learns more, she wonders: Is that the right thing to do?

LeaLeadsTheWay

Lea Leads the Way: Lea Clark is all set for an animal-discovery adventure! She’s never been to a rainforest before, and her mind is filled with exciting thoughts about the animals she’ll get to see—and the pictures she’ll get to take deep in the jungle. During a hike with her brother through the Amazon rainforest, they discover a baby sloth that is badly injured. Lea quickly decides she must do all she can to help the little sloth survive. But as she learns more, she wonders: “Is that the right thing to do?”

LeaAndCamila

Lea and Camila: For spring break, Lea Clark has invited her Brazilian friend Camila to St. Louis for a stateside adventure. They find a stray kitten and make a mysterious discovery while visiting a grand but crumbling mansion. Lea is determined to uncover the secrets of her discovery, but in her search for clues she forgets to be a good host to Camila. And when Lea’s best friend, Abby, becomes fast friends with Camila, Lea feels a little left out. Can she find a way to reconnect with her friends—and solve the mystery, too?

Lea will encourage your girl to face her fears, explore the world around her, and open her mind. These stories inspire girls to have new experiences.

lea movie

A movie will accompany her collection in the summer. Unlike movies that have come out before for other American Girl dolls, this movie will not be based on the books (or rather a re-telling of the books) and will be the “fourth” story. American Girl announced that it will continue Lea’s adventures in the rainforest.

“An unexpected twist sends Lea back to the rainforest for an all-new movie adventure!”

Her collection includes:

lea

Her Meet outfit and Beachwear for kayaking.

lea 3

Lea’s souvenir outfit

lea 4

Pajamas for sleeping under the tropical rainforest.

lea 5

Lea goes hiking in this ensemble.

lea 6

Lea’s photography and animal-watching accessories.

lea 7

Beach accessories

lea 8

Hiking accessories

lea 9

Kayaking accessories with Kayak.

lea 10

Sea turtle

lea 11

Banana Berry stand

lea 12

Margay cat

lea 13

Lea’s rainforest house

lea 14

A sloth

lea 2

bathing suit and beach outfits

********************************************************************************************************

Review 

I know. I’m late. Lea has been out for 9 days now, and I’m just now posting this. See, the thing is I thought I’d already posted this. My issue was I was so excited about Melody, I forgot to post this for those interested in Lea.

And I must admit. I am not one of those people.

Don’t get me wrong. She is pretty. I like the combination of her hair and skin color. I’m tired of the hazel eyes trend, though. :/

Still, there is just something so BORING about her. Is it just me or is American Girl Girl of the Year suddenly…uninspiring? It’s starting to feel like they are repeating the same dolls over and over again. And I’m not talking about the way she looks. I’m sure a lot of people are disappointed that she is another white, blonde character. That doesn’t quite disappoint me. Maybe it’s because I’m not as interested in the Girl of the Year as the Beforever collection. Still, when I see a GOTY I just really love, a doll I can’t resist, she must really be amazing. That’s how I felt about Grace last year. That’s not how I feel about Lea. In fact, the only other doll that bored me this much was Isabelle and for the same reason. There are several things that bore me about this collection.

Haven’t we done the tropical destination theme before?

I understand eventually American Girl will run out of ideas, but they haven’t even covered the SCOPE of ideas before settling with something they’ve already done before. Placing a movie with Lea’s collection will not resolve this issue. Lea seems like a last-minute character. They borrowed some ideas from old collections and put her in a familiar tropical environment.

What about a chess player? A musician, like a pianist or violinist or guitarist? I would’ve thought they would even try a singer or model before doing something over. What about a cheerleader? What about a girl football player?

Why don’t they make all the science items they failed to make for Maryellen and place them with the Girl of the Year?

But NOOO. That would be too original.

Girl of the Year has done this tropical theme TWICE, along with Kailey’s beach theme. Lea’s collection lacks identity.

Let’s just observe this boring collection closely for a moment…

The Kayak

I already have my Kayak from Jess’s collection.

jess kayak

Why would I be interested in Lea’s Kayak? :/ BOOORRRIINNNG. YAWN. I like the inflatable feel of Jess’s Kayak versus the plastic piece of junk in Lea’s collection. It’s not tempting. But I guess it’s easier for bath-time use.

Tie-dyed fashion

I’m also tired of the tie-dyed look as well. I’m feeling a Jess vibe from that, too.

lea

Jess

And it’s not that the styles are anything alike, but Lea’s theme is so redundant. It has been done too many times. It’s bad enough I’m not a big fan of tie-dye. It’s worse that they’ve done this more than once.

Rainforest House

I’m interested in the rainforest house a bit, but it does not make me long for Lea. It suits my Jess perfectly. Jess looks more unique than Lea does, so I see no need to add Lea to my collection for any reason, not even because a rainforest house was mentioned in her story and is supposed to be a part of her collection. I have no interest in reinventing Lea’s stories.

Berry Banana Stand

The Berry Banana stand reminds me of the Shave Ice stand from Kanani’s collection. Another tropical-themed collection. Though I actually prefer the Banana-berry stand, I already have a stand. I don’t feel the need to have both.

kanani's shave ice stand

Kanani may have been a repeat of Jess for me (as well as Kailey), but at least she had better fashion sense, cultural pieces, and different accessories in her collection at the time.

I can combine all of the collection pieces I already HAVE and create Lea’s collection.

American Girl has had TONS of hazel-eyed dolls, and the sandy-haired types, too.

What can I gain from this Girl of the Year?

Swimsuit

Girl of the Year has had enough tropical swimsuits to make my head spin.

 

 

Jess swimsuit

Kailey swimsuit

lea 2

I understand they are all from different years. I understand that girls today probably don’t remember Kailey and Jess and weren’t able to get their wardrobes when they were available. I get it. Still, I’ve had enough. I’m not interested in purchasing any more of this tropical junk, not for me or anyone else.

If you keep revamping ideas just to give old ideas to the new kiddies, when will you give kids some new stuff? When will you be more creative American Girl? American Girl is a company that has the potential to step outside of these basic ideas. They can do more with their resources than they used to when Girl of the Year first arrived on the scene. So why not broaden the Girl of the Year brand with a more unique destination? Why didn’t they try Africa? I mean, that IS where they filmed the movie!

I don’t even think her books are all that interesting. I’m not interested in learning about the rainforest as I feel the novelty wore off after Jess’s story.

Isabelle was the same way for me. Why would I be interested in a ballerina when I already have Marisol? But at least I was interested in Isabelle’s sewing set. Lea bores me all the way around.

After Grace, I thought American Girl had finally come to their senses. How foolish I was to think that this company would ever live up to my personal expectations.

So, no, Lea isn’t come home. Not one item in her collection is coming home. I’m not even interested in her movie. The fact that she isn’t even Brazilian is worse. I’ll pass. For those of you interested in Brazil or didn’t get a chance to get the other tropical characters, go for Lea.

As for me, I’m more excited for Melody and Girl of the Year 2017.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! Do you think I’m being too harsh? Do you like Lea Clark? What would you add in your collection? Or do you think she’s boring as well? I want to know!

Melody Book Description

18 Dec

Source: Melody Book Description

Melody Ellison, American Girl Beforever 2016 Book Cover!

18 Dec

American Girl Doll Plays has found the American Girl scoop of the year! Melody Ellison from 1964! For book description: https://soratothamax.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/melody-book-description/

American Girl Doll News

I meant to post this a couple of hours ago but LOOK! It’s Melody Ellison’s book cover!

Her book is called No Ordinary Sound and is by Denise Patrick Lewis.melodycover

Also, what is rumored to be her pet leaked, too!

melodybunny.jpg

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How Well Do You Know the Bratz? Quiz

4 Nov

Bratz 2001

The Bratz have returned to the scene this year, and it brought back down memory lane. I have been going back through my lovely Bratz memories, my amazing doll years.

In honor of the Bratz return, I’ve done a little review: Bratz Are Back Again in 2015: What Happened to the Bratz?

I’ve also been down memory lane before: Memory Lane: Bratz as Popstars and Rockstars

I had Bratz when I was a tween. We didn’t have the generic toys, you know, the princesses and baby dolls. We had cool, hipster toys.

I used to be a super huge fan of Bratz. I was one of the more fortunate individuals because I had my own computer back then. I would look up everything regarding Bratz. And I mean everything!

I actually learned about Bratz before their debut. I remember when their website was under construction. At first, I thought they were going to be the newest cartoon on TV. The art was so different from any I’ve seen of DOLLS, so I never would’ve guessed that soon the Bratz DOLLS would be released.

Well, since I really loved these dolls, and since my brain is going back in time, I decided to do a little QUIZ.

I want to see what other Bratz fans know about these amazing dolls. How much of a Bratz fan are you? How well do you know the Bratz? There are some obvious questions I can ask about their wardrobes, but there is also some trivia out there as well. See if you can answer them all!

There will be up to Forty (40) questions in all, in no particular order. How challenging each question is depends on what you know and how far back you’ve known about the Bratz (or how good your research skills are :P )

Okay, are you Bratz fans ready?

Let’s do this!

  1. Bratz has always had doll lines representing different countries around the world. What was Bratz’s first “destination” line?
  2. What was the first Bratz movie ever?
  3. In their Flashback Fever line, the Bratz came with a mini CD. Can you name all of the songs on it?
  4. What was Bratz’s original slogan?
  5. What were the settings within the first Bratz commercial?
  6. What year were the Bratz Boyz introduced?
  7. What is Dylan and Cameron’s nicknames?
  8. What flag did Jade have on one of her shirts in the Flaunt It line?
  9. Can you name at least two of the Bratz Beach lines?
  10. How many dolls were released to tie into the Formal Funk Line?
  11. What was the Bratz first CD to ever be released?
  12. True or Fale. StoopidStudios is the first to ever do a Stop-motion show for Bratz.
  13. When Bratz were first released, they used to have their own rooms on their main website. Can you name at least one item they had in their rooms?
  14. When Funk N’ Glow was released, the website tied in a famous pop star’s song instrumental in the background. Can you name the artist and the song that was tied in?
  15. What was the first Bratz car called?
  16. Before Dana became a major part of the Bratz line, she was an exclusive. What was the playset she came with?
  17. Which two Bratz Boyz came after Cameron and Dylan?
  18. Before Bratz kids, Bratz were small in another way. Do you know what they were called?
  19. Which Bratz song did Christina Milian feature on?
  20. Which music video of Gwen Stefani’s did Bratz appear in?
  21. What were the three music videos made specifically for the Bratz the Movie Live Action film?
  22. What was the Bratz’s first ever video game?
  23. Can you list all of Cloe’s songs from Bratz’s Rock Angelz album(s)?
  24. Bratz had stuffed animals at one time. Do you know what they were called?
  25. Which two dolls from the Bratz were named after Isaac Larian’s (the CEO of MGA, the company behind the Bratz) children?
  26. Many of the Bratz movies were told from the point of view of one Bratz girl. Whose point of view was Bratz Starrin and Stylin supposed to be from (based on the book) AND whose point of view was Bratz Rock Angelz from?
  27. Which Magazine ad did Carter Bryant, the original designer at Bratz, first find the inspiration for the dolls?
  28. What were the Bratz’s “favorite singers” during the Rock Angelz era?
  29. In Bratz Style Starz, which major pop star did each Bratz doll represent?
  30. Who was the Bratz’s target audience in 2001 and why?
  31. Can you name each of the Bratz’s favorite songs from the Bratz Rock Angelz album(s)?
  32. Which Bratz dolls were included in the Bratz Rock Angelz line overall?
  33. Which doll was the first new doll after the first four dolls debuted in 2001?
  34. Who played Sasha in Bratz Rock Angelz movie AND in the Bratz series?
  35. What Kpop star and Backstreet Boy featured with the Bratz on their song “Show Me What you Got”?
  36. What was the Bratz Nickelodeon reality show called in the U.K?
  37. Which Bratz dolls had real eyelashes?
  38. What were the names of the first Bratz twins?
  39. Fabulous Bratz is meant to take place in what American city?
  40. Before Bratz CIY, it was DYO. What does that stand for?

*Bonus* Bratz had a live concert tour in real life. True or False?

So how many do you think you got right? Let’s see!

Answers

1.Tokyo A-go-go

2. Bratz the Movie Starrin and Stylin

3. I will Survive, These Boots Are Made for Walking, Stayin’ Alive, Last Dance, Respect

4. The Girls with a Passion for Fashion Bratz 20015. The Mall and a Bedroom

6. 2002

7. The Fox and The Blaze Bratz boyz dylan8. British Flag BratzFlauntitJadeFrom20019. Beach Party, Sun kissed summer

10. 10

11. Show Me What You Got featuring BoA and Howie D (In Japan only)

12. False. A Japanese stop-motion series was released for Bratz in 2003. Bratz stop motion13. Jade-skateboard, Cloe-Acoustic Guitar, Sasha-TV, Yasmin-plants-your comments can vary Bratz 2001 website14. Madonna-What it feels like for a girl

15. F.M. Cruiser

16. Salon N’ Spa

17. Koby and Eitan

18. Lil’ Bratz

19. Look Around

20. Rich Girl

21. Daechelle-Fearless, Prima J-Rockstar, Janel Parrish-Rainy Day

22. Dress Up, Get Down, and Be A Bratz Superstar

23. You Think, Grow Up (Blah, Blah, Blah)

24. Bratz Catz

25. Yasmin and Cameron

26. Starring and Stylin-Yasmin, Rock Angelz Cloe

27. Seventeen Magazine Steve Madden ad steve madden shoe ads 5

28. Yasmin-Black Eyed Peas, Sasha-J.Lo and Beyonce, Cloe-Anyone topping the charts, Jade-Gwen Stefani, Roxxi-Green Day

29. Jade-Jessie J, Cloe-Lady Gaga, Yasmin-Nicki Minaj, Sasha-Katy Perry

Jade:

Cloe:

Yasmin:

Sasha:

30. Tweens between the ages of 10 to 14, Tweens were more into music than toys, which caused companies to lose that demographic in the late 1990s.

31. Sasha-Who I am, Cloe-You Think, Jade-Looking Good, Yasmin-Rock the World, Roxxi-Stand Out

32. Cloe, Sasha, Jade, Yasmin, Roxxi, Eitan (exclusive), Meygen (exclusive)

33. Meygen

34. Tia Mowry

35. BoA and Howie D

36. Bratz Design Academy

37. Girls Nite Out

38. Roxxi and Phoebe

39. Las Vegas

40. Design Your Own

Bratz

*Bonus* TRUE.

If you answered questions 1, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 18, 24, 32, 33, 37, 38, 39, and 40 correctly: You know your Bratz toys! I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a large collection to go with that store of knowledge! You are a true toy collector and no one can top you when it comes to knowing all of the Bratz lines that have ever been released.

If you answered 2, 4, 5, 6, 13, 14, and 22 correctly: You are a Bratz veteran! You have been in the Bratz fandom a long time and there isn’t one epic moment in Bratz history you don’t remember. Chances are, you are an adult now and the Bratz are quite vivid in your mind. You have become so wise on Bratz knowledge, you could probably work for MGA by now!

If you answered 7, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, and 34 correctly: You are not only interested in Bratz dolls, but all the things that go behind the scenes as well! You notice things most people overlook in the Bratz universe. You know what inspired the Bratz and made them come to life! You read everything that comes with the Bratz and show a sincere interest in the little things. This definitely means you are not only an investigator but detail-oriented as well. Bratz fans look to you to tell them what’s happening with the dolls.

If you answered 3, 20, 21, 23, 26, 29, and 31 correctly: You like the dolls, but you enjoy the Bratz entertainment as well. Movies, music, books, you know them all too well. You are very aware of Bratz’s relationship with pop culture and it’s easy for you to spot the Bratz in the media. If anyone remembers how popular Bratz were, it’s you!

If you answered 11, 12, 19, 35, 36, and Bonus correctly: You are a globe-trotting Bratz fan! You just didn’t settle for Bratz merch and entertainment in your own country, you wanted to know what was happening with Bratz around the world! You realized that Bratz became a world-wide phenomenon and you wanted to experience it all!

If you answered half of them right, you knew the Bratz more than most people around you! You may have felt that you were a little too obsessed with them and what was going on around you regarding them at the time. But you may not have been interested in anything that was beyond the surface of what was given to you regarding Bratz.

If you answered them ALL right, type up that resume and purchase that ticket to California, MGA and Bratz needs YOU! You are Bratz’s number one fan! Would you like to add anymore questions to this list?

I hope you all enjoyed the quiz! It’s just a little fun for Bratz fans!

Leave me a comment and tell me how well you did, whether you learned something, or whether you thought the questions were too hard. I would like to know!

f(x) Comeback “4 Walls” Review

26 Oct

Vote For F(x) On Show Champion!

VOTE FOR F(x) ON M!COUNTDOWN!

Vote For F(x) for MAMA Awards

A major f(x) fan is back to give you a review of f(x)’s latest album 4 Walls. Honestly, I’d been so preoccupied with life that f(x)’s comeback creeped up on me without me even being fully prepared. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect.

After f(x) member Sulli left the group, I was a little worried about this comeback. I made up in my mind not to expect too much.

Like always, f(x) managed to surprise me…Which wasn’t surprising at the same time? But it was. DARN IT ALL! Just when I think I have this unexpected thing nailed when it comes to f(x), here they come with something I never even expected. They are very different from any girl group comeback this year. I can’t say that I was totally prepared. I didn’t have many expectations, but I did expect something upbeat.

I don’t think I was entirely prepared for what we fans actually were handed.

I’ve touched on f(x) before, so check out some of my links below:

Who is f(x)? Take a detour and click me!

f(x) Pink Tape Review

GN’s LEAST FAVORITE f(x) album?

Why f(x) of all K-pop groups?

The Most Unique Girl Groups in All of History (f(x) makes the list)

If you want to hear other f(x) albums, just to get an idea of who they are, you can listen below:

What isn’t unexpected about this album is the experimental sounds. I was prepared for that. Still, how can someone prepare for experimental sounds without feeling a little uneasy?

I’m going to start by reviewing their photo images for the comeback.

The images for this album have a 1970’s retro vibe. Still, the girls are quite natural. They seem chilled, relaxed, and fresh-faced. They are wearing comfortable clothes. I really like the natural and comfortable feeling. Really, it’s not as unusual as last year’s Red Light concept.

It seems f(x) keeps getting lost in forests. Electric Shock‘s images also put the girls in a forest. Only this time, their outfits aren’t as eclectic.

f(x) 4 walls krystal f(x) 4 walls fx 4 walls amber 2 fx 4 walls amber 3 fx 4 walls amber 4 fx 4 walls amber 5 fx 4 walls amber 6 fx 4 walls amber 7 fx 4 walls amber fx 4 walls fx fx 4 walls krystal 2 fx 4 walls krystal 3 fx 4 walls krystal 4 fx 4 walls krystal 6 fx 4 walls krystal fx 4 walls luna 2 fx 4 walls luna 3 fx 4 walls luna 4 fx 4 walls luna 5 fx 4 walls luna 6 fx 4 walls luna 7 fx 4 walls luna 8 fx 4 walls luna fx 4 walls victoria 2 fx 4 walls victoria 3 fx 4 walls victoria 4 fx 4 walls victoria 5 fx 4 walls victoria 6 fx 4 walls victoria

I love these photos. I really wish Sulli’s face could magically show up. She would do so much justice to such natural photos like these.

The album cover looks like a booklet. It doesn’t look like it holds a CD, but it does. I really like this design. It blends in well on a bookshelf. It’s amazing to flip through. There are random versions. There’s a red one and a white one. On the back, you can get any random f(x) member’s picture.

4 walls album booklet

The most amazing part of this comeback was the promotion. I covered that here —> f(x)s art exhibit

The Music Video was very unique. I really liked how aesthetic and different it was. I’m glad it was meaningful and not some generic dance number. The meaning is kind of hard to digest, but the visuals and imagery are captivating. I keep finding myself watching it over and over just to get the sense of it…

This is kind of what the video means: The video is showing the girls in their own world, or dimension. Victoria is first, Krystal is next, Luna, then Amber. They follow each other in the same patterns: wake up, fix their hair, look out the window, put a jacket on, head in the kitchen, get cup, pour tea. What’s interesting is that they are all doing the same things within this 4-wall dimension.

But Amber dropped the cup first, breaking the pattern. So when it was Krystal’s turn to pour the tea, she didn’t have a cup, so it spilled, which made Victoria slip and fall in her dimension. They don’t realize that what one girl is doing will affect the whole group within the walls because they aren’t aware that they are sharing this dimension.

When Victoria falls, her “illusion” is breaking. She starts to see visions of them in a forest. She runs first, the other girls follow her in the dimension, but they start to see visuals of the last dimension that occurred, but was frozen because of the break in the dimension. Victoria was pouring the cup, which froze. Krystal began to realize that Victoria was in her dimension then. Luna frozen in the air was like when Victoria slipped and fell. Luna stepped on the cup that was broken by Amber. The girls are starting to realize they are part of the same dimension. Krystal runs, scared, and end up falling in water, she tries to emerge and Victoria comes up, then she goes back under, Luna does the same, and ends up coming up for air. She gets out of the tub, probably afraid this is crazy. She hurries and goes to sleep, to try and fix all of this. The next morning, the girls are now aware that they are in the same dimension. All are rushing, getting ready, and the routine is going back to normal. But Amber is about to drop the cup, and Victoria remembers when she was in the 4-walled dimension. Victoria reaches the cup first and saves it to stop things from happening again, showing that they are no longer in their own world. She is able to step into Amber’s world and save the cup.

The broken cup may represent Sulli, the fragile member that was broken away from the group. All of the other members were so busy in their own world, that they let her break, which affected the group strongly. Victoria, the group leader, in the end tries to prevent it from happening again.

But their choreography on MCountdown! That choreography was so polished and crispy like chicken, they snap, crackled, and popped! I was TOO impressed. Their outfits were sharp and the girls shined. I kind of hope they release a dance version just to please fans who can’t appreciate depth.

Now, let’s get down to the music. WOOT!

If you didn’t like Red Light for its strange trap beats, then you’re in luck! This album is ten times better. The songs are smoother and more addictive. It’s still experimental. I love every single song on this album. I feel that f(x) really adapted the EDM-electronic style of music well on this album. This is actually my second favorite album from f(x), still after Pink Tape though.

Most of the songs on this album seem like love songs. It doesn’t have the variety of topic that Pink Tape had, and yet, somehow, I don’t mind it.

1)4 Walls

The first song on this album is “4 Walls”. It is the title track and the lead track. Surprisingly, it has a smooth, EDM indie sound. It is quite addictive after the first listen. And with some nice speakers and headphones, too? It’s a melody you can listen to while going to the store or dancing at a hot club. I was definitely not expecting this kind of song to be the lead. But it really is unexpected in a good way. It’s a classy number and I love it.

It really reminds me of Utada. And I’m a huge fan of Utada! I can really see Utada taking this song and nailing it.

I’m sure f(x) fans would be deliciously surprised to hear a song like this as a title track. But guess what? It’s still a great song. Even Amber’s rap gives this song such a strong feeling. I’m just so…in shock right now. I hope all of this comes across clear.

4 Walls seems to be a hint at them being stronger four members even after the departure of Sulli. It’s supposed to be about falling in love for the first time and having confused feelings about it.

f(x) definitely shows that they are growing up, and they are growing up nicely. I’m really impressed with this song. I wasn’t expected to be this satisfied…And yet, I feel this isn’t the f(x) I knew before. And yet, I like it. It’s so strange…

The music video was quite unique. It was natural, and yet a bit mysterious. I feel that the events in the music video possibly distracted viewers from the actual song and it takes a few listens to really grasp it all. It’s so different from everything f(x) has done, yet it also feels like an f(x) vibe. The video may be a little confusing to people.

Maybe this explanation can help: http://jiyeonsulli.tumblr.com/post/131974252469/explanation-of-fx-4-walls-mv

2) Glitter

A song that brings me back to BoA’s old days. It’s light, and yet has that electronic style I’m really starting to dig from f(x). This has an amazing beat if you listen to this song with some headphones or speakers. This feels like an f(x) song. This sounds like it could be off of a Disney soundtrack to some people, but I would best describe it as a re-vamped version of the Rugrats’s theme song. This song is catchy.

This song is about loving someone so much that they shine in front of you.

3) Deja Vu

This song is really upbeat. It’s not at all what I expected when I first saw the title. I guess I kept thinking of Beyonce’s “Deja Vu”. It’s a happy, light number in comparison. It still has the electronic style f(x) has gotten comfortable with. It’s mixed with some funk. It seems suited to their 1970’s retro theme.

Clearly the song is about seeing someone you love everywhere, to the point it seems like deja vu.

4) X

If you thought the last one was funky, let’s get down to this number. It definitely sounds like a re-vamped 1970’s song. It’s funky, soulful, and fun. I love it. From the very beginning, the sound was very distinct and different. This is just what I expect from f(x). I actually hope they have an MV for this song and set it in the 1970s. That would be epic and unique.

And yet, this still feels like an f(x) song.

When they say, “Chemical X”, I keep thinking of the Powerpuff Girls. XD What’s with me and 1990s cartoons?

This song is about some body to body, skin to skin action…Though I don’t think it’s sexual…At least I don’t think so…

5) Rude Love

Amber is singing…Enough said.

This is one of my favorite songs on this album besides the title track. It’s very catchy. It’s EDM, electronic styled with melodious voices present throughout. Rude Love is pretty self-explanatory. I really can’t help listening to this song over and over. The voices! Wow! I really just think this slays my heart into many pieces. It’s definitely going to be the song of the year for me. I feel so much talent in this song.

I think this may be a little sexual. ;) A guy who’s polite during the day, but rude at night? Okay…

6) Diamond

This seems to be a favorite of everyone. I agree. This would be a very public-friendly song for everybody. But I’m so happy it’s not the title MV. I love f(x) for making their artistic splash wherever they are.

This song is definitely my jam. I think this will be on repeat until times get better.

The beginning of the song sounds like it has so much attitude, and then f(x)’s lead vocalist just comes out of the box to make her splash, as usual. This song is amazing. I really do hope they have a re-package and that this song becomes an MV as well. There’s so much potential with this album. The artistry is impressive. I even love Amber’s rap segment. OMAGAWD.

With f(x), music videos don’t make their group, their albums define them.

The meaning of this song is empowering. It’s about having a strong heart and learning to love one’s self without a man in your life. I think it speaks of a woman’s success and being happy with her accomplishments and not looking for someone to give her self-esteem. It compares a woman to a “diamond”. She’s worth a lot and should know it. I love this song, wow.

7) Traveler

This song is a bit quirky. It brings to mind a 1980s song. It sort of reminds me of Vacance from Red Light, though not in sound. It just reminds me of traveling in that same upbeat way. This song is a little more relaxed, but it’s still fun and light. Block B’s Zico is featured on the track. His raps are fresh. I really like this song.

To put it simply, it has a 1980s background with some 1970s funk, peppered with f(x)’s unusual splash.

This song is about traveling and exploring the world and branching out of one area. It’s a great traveling song.

8) Papi

Also a favorite of many people. Really catchy. It has a Latino theme obviously. But it’s also upbeat and pop-ish. It brings to mind some of Ricky Martin’s songs back in the day. It’s upbeat and fun. It’s a cool, upbeat, catchy dance number. “Papi, let’s go, I kind of like it!” That’s one of the lyrics, and I kind of like it.

This song is quite unique as well. This would be nice with a music video.

This song is about being a hot partner, possibly a dance partner (?), and appealing to all the fellows. They are looking for someone just as amazing.

9) Cash Me Out

From my understanding, this song was meant to come out in 2013, around the Pink Tape era. It sounds like it. It has an electronic feeling that is reminiscent of that time. This song is really catchy. It’s a really good dance numbers. f(x) has quite a few good dance numbers. But it’s always peppered with f(x)’s original flair. I really love this song. This is also on repeat.

There are quite a few songs about valuable things on this album. This is about finding someone so valuable, everything else seems worthless.

10) When I’m Alone

This song is dream-like and melodious in the beginning and strong in the chorus. It sounds like an f(x) song. It’s so catchy. I really love it. It sort of reminds me of a Madonna song…I can’t put my finger on it…

I hear that Carly Rae Jepson was the writer behind this song. WOW.

It’s a really interesting song to end with. But I’m satisfied.

This song is about being alone with one’s dreams. Though the outside world may ridicule or say something about your dreams, sometimes you can’t help but hide those dreams deep in your heart. Perhaps they have fantasies of someone they love and people feel it’s just a fantasy (?).

Overall, I feel this album is way better than Red Light on many levels when it comes to appealing to the public. Still, it doesn’t top Pink Tape in delivery (the cover was a pink VHS tape!) or variety (every song sounded uniquely different on Pink Tape; every song on 4 Walls has an EDM style or retro vibe, making them seem more related). And yet, I can’t stop listening to this album front to back…I love every song. I feel the music on this album is more addictive than Pink Tape. There isn’t one song that doesn’t feel like an easy listen. This album gets a 10/10 from me.

Unlike with Red Light, I honestly feel satisfied at the end with just 10 songs. Great job girls.

If you want to purchase from Yesasia, follow the links below:

For the United States and Canada: Click Me

For other countries around the globe: Click Me

WHAT HAPPENED TO SULLI?

For those of you who don’t know what happened to Sulli, I will explain:

Fans, especially fans in Korea, ran her away. She was never on bad terms with the group or SM. This all started in 2013. Sulli became bogged down with both her acting and her music career. She started to seem tired and “lazy” on stage to some people. During Rum Pum Pum Pum performances, people noticed she did the choreography different. They assumed it was because she was lazy or assumed she lost her passion for the group. According to her, she was actually uncomfortable in the short skirts, as she was always put in the shortest skirts during that performance.

But fans can be ruthless. They slammed her, calling her talentless, lazy, and claiming that she was unimportant to the group. One fan even made a Twitter account as a “campaign” to remove her from the group. Well, things got even worse when pictures leaked showing her dating Dynamic Duo’s Choiza, a man several years older than she is and with a name translated to mean “Big Dick”. Her representative from SM kept telling people that she’s not dating and that someone’s spreading false rumors. Then, in the later half of the year, around the time of Red Light promotions, word got out that she actually WAS dating him. So people felt Sulli lied to the public, and that made them lose respect for her. Soon after that, Sulli was missing from the live performances. She said it was because she was sick, but pictures were released showing her out on dates with Choiza. People assumed she was skipping out on promotions to be around Choiza. Soon, Sulli went on a hiatus, saying she was mentally exhausted from all the malicious comments. Soon, all of f(x) went on hiatus, causing all RL promotions to be halted. This angered fans more. F(x) only comes out with one comeback a year, so people were devastated. They blamed Sulli for it, but actually the girls could’ve just continued without her. All of f(x) were actually busy with schedules, so they all thought they needed a break.

Still, Sulli couldn’t shake the anti-fans. She left the group this year to focus on acting. Fans of her Kdramas don’t give her as much grief.

Sulli still loves her members and SM. She still wanted to be a part of the group. But what is an idol without fans?

So now f(x) is back as four members, and they have done really well actually.

To Read More About f(x):

f(x) the Korean “Spice Girls” + Amber Liu in the Spotlight

f(x) Summer on GN!

Which f(x) member are you? quiz

f(x) Around the World

f(x) in the USA

f(x) on Olleh: Korea’s most Unique Girl Group

Just how Talented is f(x) Sulli?

Just how Talented is f(x) Victoria?

Just how talented is f(x) Amber?

Just how talented is f(x) Krystal?

Just how talented is f(x) Luna?

GN’s Top 10 F(x) songs (so far)

Girls’ Generation vs F(x): Chocolate Love

Why does GN love f(x) so much?

Who is your f(x) bias?

GN’s LEAST FAVORITE f(x) album?

EXTRAS

Top 15 Most Unique Girl Groups in History

USA’s Nylon writes about Girls’ Generation’s Jessica and F(x)’s Krystal, Jungsis!

F(x) Amber and Got7 on We Got Married Global! Which man wins Amber’s heart (Natal chart reading)?

F(x) Gets treated unfair by SM? And EXO is treated better?

Make Your Move, SM’s first American movie has songs from F(x) and Girls’ Generation in it!

F(x) Amber, a part of androgynous inspiration!

The Korean Wave

Venus signs and Love Stories, F(x) Amber Liu is mentioned

Music Core, f(x) mentioned

Jackie Liu, Amber Liu’s Sister, Gets Hurt by Fan

f(x)’s Amber in a parody Korean drama for A Song for you!

SM TOWN WORLD TOUR 2014! f(x) will perform!

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