The new year meant the release of Joss Kendrick, American Girl's 18th Girl of the Year (and 20th doll in the line overall), and so I decided to take a look back at all of the Girls of the Year!
The first Girl of the Year doll was Lindsey Bergman. She was the Girl of the Year for 2001, yet she was released on September 1, 2001 and retired on December 31, 2002. Lindsey was a troublemaker and trumpet player that lived in Chicago, Illinois. Lindsey's story involved her trying to make a difference in people's lives- like trying to get her two teachers together, adding smiley-face stickers to trash cans or sticking up to bullies. Ultimately, Lindsey's plans fail more than they succeed, but she learns from her Uncle Bernie that she should still be herself, and try to help out in a more respectful way. Lindsey had one book written by Chryssa Atkinson and her collection was small, consisting of only her, a laptop and a scooter.
The second Girl of the Year doll was Kailey Hopkins. She was the Girl of the Year for 2003, but she was released on July 1, 2003 and retired on July 1, 2004. Kailey was a beach girl who lived in Pasadena, California. Her story revolved around her efforts to save the California tide pools she loved from development. Kailey then learns that with the help of others, anyone can make a difference. Kailey's one book was written by Amy Goldman Koss, and her collection was a bit bigger than Lindsey's. She was the first Girl of the Year to have extra clothing, since she had a Wet Suit and Bikini set.
The third Girl of the Year doll was Marisol Luna. She was the Girl of the Year for 2005 (the year I was born), but she was released on December 27, 2004 and retired on December 15, 2005, when she sold out. Marisol was a dancer who's life changed when her parents decided to move from the Chicago city to the suburban Des Plaines, a town with no dance school. Throughout her book written by Gary Soto, she learned to accept the change and tried to find a way to keep on dancing. Her collection was the first to contain "big" items, Marisol's Dance Trunk and Marisol's Spotlight Stage. She was also the first doll to have a Starter Collection in addition to a Whole World collection, and the first Latina Girl of the Year (effectively being the first Girl of the Year of color as well)
The fourth Girl of the Year doll was Jess McConnell. She was the Girl of the Year for 2006, but she was released on December 26, 2005 and retired on December 31, 2006. Jess was a girl with an interest in soccer and guitar playing from Michigan, but she was taken with her archaeologist parents to Belize. There, she met a local girl named Sarita, and the two of them went on a journey that led Jess to discover an ancient ruin- and more about herself. Her book was written by Mary Casanova, an author who would eventually return for 3 more GOTY series. Jess was the first Girl of the Year to have pajamas, and she was the first part-Asian Girl of the Year and the first mixed-race Girl of the Year, since she is part Japanese, Scottish and Irish. She was also the first doll to carry the label "Girl of the Year", and the first to have a middle name (which Chrissa and Joss also had). She debuted the Jess face mold.
The fifth Girl of the Year doll was Nicki Fleming. She was the Girl of the Year 2007, and was the first doll to release on January 1, a tradition kept up ever since. Nicki lived on her family's ranch outside Denver, Colorado and was interested in many activities, including skiing and horseback riding. She struggled with taking on too many challenges and not being able to say "no", and this led to her training a service dog named Sprocket while her mom was pregnant with twins. Over time, she falls in love with Sprocket, and her second book, Thanks to Nicki, was mainly about her feelings about letting him go. She was the first Girl of the Year to have two books, which were both written by Ann Howard Creel. Nicki's big item was her horse, Jackson. She sold out on December 13, 2007.
The sixth Girl of the Year was Mia St. Clair. She was the Girl of the Year for 2008, released on January 1, 2008 and sold out on December 17, 2008. Mia lived in upstate New York and despite being in a family full of hockey-playing brothers, she loved to ice skate. Her life changed when a former Olympian, Emma Schubert, moved to her ice skating rink and became her coach. Mia then is pushed out of her comfort zone in the skating department, skating solos and going to Regionals for the first time, and learns to believe in herself. Mia's two books were written by Laurence Yep, who later wrote Isabelle's books. Mia also had her own freckle pattern and was the only Girl of the Year to have her own PC game, Mia Goes for Great.
The seventh Girl of the Year was Chrissa Maxwell. She was the Girl of the Year for 2009, released on January 1, 2009 and retired on Christmas Eve 2009, when she sold out. Chrissa was a swimmer and crafter who originally lived in Iowa, but her life changed when she moved to the fictional town of Edgewater, Minnesota. At her new school, she had to deal with bullying from a group of mean girls called the 'Mean Bees'. But she did make some new friends, and she eventually found a way to take a stand against bullying. Her 2 books were written by Mary Casanova, who previously wrote Jess's books, and she was the first Girl of the Year to have a movie, Chrissa Stands Strong, where she was played by Sammi Hanratty, a regular guest star on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Her collection also brought about two companion dolls.
One of Chrissa's companion dolls was Gwen Thompson, who was released on January 1 and retired on December 31, 2009. Gwen was interested in playing music, and she was a lonely frequent target of the Mean Bees since she was homeless, going from living in her mom's car to a shelter. She eventually found a friend in Chrissa. Gwen was very similar to Just Like You 12, and she came with the Friends: Making Them and Keeping Them book. In the movie, Gwen was portrayed by Kaitlyn Dever, who eventually found fame starring in movies like Them That Follow and Booksmart.
The other companion doll for Chrissa was Sonali Matthews, who also was available for all of 2009. Sonali came from a well-off family and was originally one of the Mean Bees, but after bonding with Chrissa, she changed her ways and called off bullying for good. She also became friends with Gwen as well. Sonali debuted a new face mold, the Sonali Mold. She came with the same book as Gwen. In the movie, Sonali was portrayed by Ariela Barer, who eventually played a character on the Hulu original series Marvel's Runaways.
The eighth Girl of the Year was Lanie Holland. She was the Girl of the Year for 2010, who released on January 1, 2010 and retired on December 31, 2010. Lanie was from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was an outdoorsy girl in a family that preferred to stay inside, which frustrated her, especially since her BFF Dakota was overseas exploring. But when her Aunt Hannah visited, Lanie learned that she could have outdoor adventures in her own backyard, and started her own garden. Lanie's collection included her Outdoor Camper, which was the biggest Girl of the Year item to that point. Her 2 books were written by Jane Kurtz.
The ninth Girl of the Year was Kanani Akina. Being the Girl of the Year for 2011, she released on January 1, 2011 and sold out on December 9 of that year. Kanani lived in Kauai, Hawaii and loved paddleboarding and helping out at her family's shaved ice stand. When her cousin from New York, Rachel, visited and was homesick, Kanani learned how to bring the "aloha spirit" to her- and how to carry it out to make a difference in the world. Kanani was the last doll to have a Whole World collection. Her two books were written by Lisa Yee, who eventually wrote Lea's, and in a break from tradition, were written in third-person. Kanani's meet book was called Aloha, Kanani, breaking tradition as well. Kanani was the first doll to have her own app, Shave Ice.
The tenth Girl of the Year was McKenna Brooks. Being the Girl of the Year for 2012, McKenna released on January 1, 2012 and sold out on December 5, 2012, becoming the fastest Girl of the Year to sell out. McKenna was a gymnast from Seattle, Washington, but she struggled in the classroom, especially with reading. She eventually got a tutor named Josie, and McKenna learned how to shine in the classroom: and get back up in gymnastics after she broke her leg. McKenna's 2 books were written by Mary Casanova. She also was the first doll since Chrissa to have a movie, McKenna Shoots for the Stars, where she was played by Jade Pettyjohn, who went on to become a Nickelodeon star. McKenna also had an app, Gymtastic.
The eleventh Girl of the Year was Saige Copeland. Being the Girl of the Year for 2013, Saige released on January 1, 2013 and retired on December 31, 2013. Saige was born on October 8, 2003 and lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was interested in horseback riding and painting, but when her school cut the art program, Saige used her talents to campaign to bring back art. Saige's 2 books were written by Jessie Haas. Saige was the first Girl of the Year to come with her ears pierced, and she also had a unique turquoise eye color. Saige's collection included the Hot Air Balloon, which was the tallest American Girl item ever produced. In her movie, Saige Paints the Sky, Saige was portrayed by newcomer Sidney Fullmer, who was discovered at an American Girl store. Saige's app was called Paint Ponies.
The twelfth Girl of the Year was Isabelle Palmer. Being the Girl of the Year for 2014, Isabelle released on January 1, 2014 and sold out on December 21, 2014. Isabelle lived in Washington D.C and attended a ballet school, Anna Hart School for the Arts. Her sister Jade was the most popular ballerina there, and Isabelle felt like she was stuck in her shadow. But over the course of the series, Isabelle found her own way to shine: designing costumes. Isabelle was the first Girl of the Year to have three books, which were all written by the author of Mia's books, Laurence Yep. Isabelle's wig was designed to accommodate removable pink highlights: which I lost one month after getting Isabelle, sadly. Isabelle's collection also doubled as a mix-and-match line. In her movie, Isabelle Dances Into The Spotlight, she was played by Erin Pitt, the only Canadian to play a GOTY doll. Isabelle's movie also had a tie-in toy line with McDonald's. Isabelle's app was called Dance Studio.
The thirteenth Girl of the Year was Grace Thomas. Being the Girl of the Year for 2015, Grace released on January 1, 2015 and sold out on December 30, 2015. Grace was born on September 17, 2005 and lived in the fictional town of Bentwick, Massachusetts. She had a passion for baking and helping out in her grandparent's bakery, but her summer plans got turned on their head when her mom took Grace to Paris since her Aunt Sophie was on bed rest and needed help in her French bakery. While in Paris, Grace befriended her cousin Sylvie and found a business idea: making French treats in America with her friends. Grace's three books were written by Mary Casanova, and she was the first GOTY to have no illustrations in her books, which was kept by the GOTYs for the rest of the 2010s. Grace had a unique freckle pattern, and her collection featured the $500 French Bakery- the most expensive AG item of all time so far. In her movie, Grace Stirs Up Success, Grace was played by Olivia Rodrigo in her first role, who went on to find success in Disney productions. Grace's app was called Sweet Shop.
The fourteenth Girl of the Year was Lea Clark. Being the Girl of the Year for 2016, Lea released on January 1, 2016 (the first GOTY I got on 1/1!) and sold out on December 19, 2016. Lea was born on August 14, 2005 and was an adventurous aspiring photographer living in St. Louis, Missouri. When she went to Brazil to visit her brother, who was studying abroad, Lea learned to face any fears she may had, as well as understanding wildlife a little bit more than she used to. Lea's first two books were written by Lisa Yee, who wrote the Kanani series, while her third book was written by both Yee and Kellen Hertz, who went on to write the Tenney series. Lea debuted a new skin tone and was the first doll to come with a zip tie instead of neck strings. Her collection included three different animals where some of the proceeds went to the World Wildlife Fund. In her movie, Lea to the Rescue, she was played by Maggie Elizabeth Jones, who was known for her role in We Bought A Zoo. (I went to the Atlanta store the day before she was there for a meet and greet. I still regret going the wrong day.) Lea's app was called Born for Adventure, and I still haven't beat the last level even though it's been four years. That's how hard that game was.
The fifteenth Girl of the Year was Gabriela McBride. She was the Girl of the Year for 2017, releasing on January 1, 2017. She was the first doll since Lindsey to last longer than one year, and Gabriela sold out on November 21, 2018. Gabriela was a dancer living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who was branching out into poetry after her cousin Red suggested for her to do so. She was also trying to overcome her stutter using poetry. Her story revolved around her learning to be more confident and express herself in her efforts to save her mom's arts center, run for student council and find her way in poetry. Gabriela's first two books were written by Teresa E. Harris, and her last book was written by Varian Johnson. Just Like You 46 was taken out of retirement to be Gabriela. She was the first Girl of the Year since Jess to have her big ticket item released later in the year. Gabriela was the first Girl of the Year since Kanani not to have a movie. She was also the first African American Girl of the Year, the first disabled Girl of the Year and the first full Girl of the Year of color since Marisol. She was featured in the American Girl World app.
The sixteenth Girl of the Year was Luciana Vega. She was the Girl of the Year for 2018. She was released on January 1, 2018 and is still available, making her the longest-lasting Girl of the Year so far. Luciana was born on May 15, 2006 and was an aspiring astronaut from Virginia who dreamed of being the first girl on Mars. In her story, she won a scholarship to go to Space Camp, and there, she launched a journey of career exploration and learning how to be a good leader and team player. Luciana was the last Girl of the Year to have three books, which were all written by Erin Teagan. The Luciana doll featured a permanent purple hair streak. Luciana's collection featured a Mars Habitat playset, which retailed for $350. Luciana was the first Chilean Girl of the Year, and the second Latina after Marisol. Luciana was featured in the American Girl World app and in the American Girl Live musical, where she was portrayed by Ashley Diane.
The seventeenth Girl of the Year was Blaire Wilson. She was the Girl of the Year for 2019. She was released on January 1, 2019 and is still available. Blaire was born on March 18, 2009 and was a gardener and cook who lived on her family's Pleasant View Farm Bed and Breakfast. In her story, she was struggling with a dairy sensitivity and tablet addiction when she found herself in charge of planning the Pleasant View Farm's first wedding. Through her adventures, Blaire learned that she could use her talents to help others- and that connecting with others is important. Blaire's two books were written by Jennifer Castle. Blaire was the first redhead Josefina mold since Nellie. Her collection included the $350 Family Farm Restaurant. Blaire was the first Girl of the Year to have a food sensitivity. She was featured in a series of videos that were published throughout 2019.
The eighteenth Girl of the Year is Joss Kendrick. She is the Girl of the Year for 2020. She was released on January 1, 2020 and is still available. Joss was born on April 14, 2010 and is a surfer from Huntington Beach who is deaf in her left ear and wears a hearing aid in her right. In her story, she is dared to try out for the cheerleading team, and soon falls in love with the sport. Joss soon learns that you can do more than one thing, and that you should always get back up after failure. Joss's two books were written by Erin Falligant. Joss debuted with a new mold to accommodate her redesigned hearing aid, and her big ticket item isn't out yet. Joss was the first Girl of the Year to have a visible disability. She will be featured in a series of AGSMs on AG's YouTube channel.
Who's your favorite Girl of the Year?