KANSAS CITY, Mo. — American Girl has released a new historical character named Claudie Wells to its line of dolls and books.
Claudie grew up in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood in 1922, which would later become known as the Harlem Renaissance, a golden age in Black culture, arts and entertainment.
New York Times best-selling author Brit Bennett, who was a childhood American Girl fan herself, wrote Claudie’s story.
“Before I ever sat in front of a computer to type, I had already started telling stories each time I played with my dolls. My sister and I were in love with our American Girl dolls and books, especially Addy. While the doll itself was beautiful, what enchanted me was Addy’s courageous story written by the trailblazing author Connie Porter, so creating a new historical character for American Girl has been a dream come true,” Bennett said in a news release from the company.
“As a girl, I always loved studying the Harlem Renaissance, an outpouring of Black artistry that emerged alongside larger struggles for equal rights. I hope readers will enjoy exploring this fascinating era through Claudie’s eyes.”
In her story, 9-year-old Claudie is surrounded by talented creators in Harlem, but she’s worried about not having her own gift to share. But she begins to find her knack for storytelling and discovers her family’s history. Along the way, she learns “why Harlem has become home to so many Black people searching for freedom.”
American Girl said it also worked with several experts, including award-winning historians and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, to develop Claudie’s story and history.
With bouncy ringlets and a hairbow, Claudie will come dressed in a blue-and-white plaid dress and cardigan with a necklace, hat, journal and Baby Ruth candy bar.
American Girl is also collaborating with Harlem’s Fashion Row and designer Samantha Black for three special-edition outfits. Claudie’s collection also comes with a doll-sized scooter, plush dog named Dizzy Dot, and a 1920s bakery set.
The company is also donating a combined $100,000 in cash and Claudie dolls and books to Harlem School of the Arts, a cultural center in New York City. The funds will go toward a scholarship program that provides students with advanced training in music, dance, theater and art.
“The debut of Claudie Wells is a true full-circle moment for American Girl, and it all started with a tweet. In it, celebrated author Brit Bennett shared her desire to write an American Girl story based on her own experience with the brand. We loved the idea and felt it was the perfect time to celebrate how — after more than 35 years — American Girl has made such a positive impact on the lives of so many,” said Jamie Cygielman, general manager of American Girl.
“The timing is even more powerful given this incredible resurgence of nostalgic love we’re experiencing from our fans of all ages. We’re thrilled to introduce Claudie and her vibrant life in 1920s Harlem to a whole new generation, and we’re honored to welcome Ms. Bennett to our rank of esteemed authors who inspire our readers every day and help us further our commitment to inclusive storytelling.”