American Girl Celebrates Literary Heritage & Harlem Renaissance With Best-Selling Novelist Brit Bennett

American Girl celebrates the Harlem Renaissance with new 1920s historical character, Claudie Wells, whose story is written by acclaimed author Brit Bennett. (PHOTO: BUSINESS WIRE)
American Girl celebrates the Harlem Renaissance with new 1920s historical character, Claudie Wells, whose story is written by acclaimed author Brit Bennett. (PHOTO: BUSINESS WIRE)

 MIDDLETON, Wis. -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- American Girl, a cornerstone in the Mattel (NASDAQ: MAT) portfolio of purposeful brands, welcomes a new historical character—Claudie Wells—to its
flagship line of dolls and books that give fans an understanding of important times in America’s past. Growing up in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood in 1922, Claudie™ and her family are living in a
profound period of cultural growth that would become known as the Harlem Renaissance, the most influential movement of African American artistic and cultural expression in U.S. history. In her first foray
into middle-grade fiction, New York Times best-selling author and childhood American Girl fan Brit Bennett wrote Claudie’s story and takes readers on a journey to this extraordinary moment of Black artistic joy
and expression, while also deftly exploring the challenges of the times.

“The debut of Claudie Wells is a true full-circle moment for American Girl, and it all started with a tweet,” said Jamie Cygielman, General Manager of American Girl. “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. 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.”

According to Bennett, “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. 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, nine-year-old Claudie is surrounded by talented
writers, painters, musicians, and singers in her beloved Harlem community.


While Claudie is naturally curious and loves hearing about people’s adventures and stories, she worries about not having her own
special talent to share with the world. As she begins to find her way as a storyteller, she uncovers her own family’s history and better understands why Harlem has become home to so many Black people
searching for freedom. Each Claudie doll comes with a paperback “Meet Claudie” book, which is also available in an all-new keepsake, hardcover edition. The book is illustrated by the award-winning Laura
Freeman whose works have been featured on the New York Times Best Seller List.

In addition to author Brit Bennett, American Girl collaborated with the following subject-matter experts who advised on Claudie’s development, from reviewing initial manuscripts to final products:
Keisha N. Blain
Marcia Chatelain
Spencer R. Crew
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham
Shannon King


To bring Claudie’s world to life, American Girl designers were inspired by 1920s historical publications, photographs, catalogues, and other resources like The Brownies’ Book—a first-ofits- kind magazine for Black children published by W.E.B. Du Bois, a central figure of the Harlem Renaissance. The beautiful 18-inch Claudie ™ doll, which features an all-new face mold, has brown eyes and dark, shoulder-length hair styled in bouncy ringlets and a hairbow. The

Claudie doll comes dressed in her signature blue-and-white plaid dress
and knit cardigan, and her special accessories include a heart-shaped
necklace, a cloche hat, a journal, and an era-authentic Baby Ruth®
candy bar. Additionally, American Girl is once again collaborating
with Harlem’s Fashion Row®, the premier design agency that creates
a bridge between brands and designers of color in fashion, along with
top designer Samantha Black. Inspired by the era, Black designed
three special-edition outfits for the line that showcase her modern take
on 1920s glamour.

Claudie’s collection also includes a doll-sized kick scooter; a
plush version of her favorite dog, Dizzy Dot™; and an authentically-
styled 1920s bakery with more than 60 pieces. The three-paneled
Angelo’s Bakery includes a built-in pretend oven and comes with a
tiered bakery case and checkout counter; a prep table and three-level
bakery cart; loads of kitchen gear and baking ingredients; plus, numerous pretend treats for display.

The new Claudie product collection and keepsake, hardcover
book ($16.99) is available today at americangirl.com and at all U.S.
American Girl retail locations. The special hardcover book can also be
purchased from Amazon and at other fine booksellers nationwide. The
second Claudie book will be published in spring 2023.

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