There's a new heroine in the world of historical fiction, and she's upsetting all the stereotypes. Cecile Rey is an African-American girl living in New Orleans in the 1850's. She's not a slave, she's a free person of color, and her family is among the most influential and affluent around town. She has a brother studying in France. She loves to sing. She's intelligent and confident. She's not afraid to make friends with the most unlikely of girls, a white Yankee name Marie-Grace. Go Cecile!
Here's the synopsis of the first Cecile book, Meet Cecile:
Cécile Rey can't wait for Mardi Gras—the dazzling season of parties and costume balls in New Orleans. For the grandest event of all, the Children's Ball, Cécile is determined to come up with a fantastic costume like no other. Everyone will notice her! And after Mardi Gras, Cécile's beloved brother, Armand, will finally come home after two long years in faraway France. But Mardi Gras season turns out to be even more exciting than Cécile expects when she meets a new girl named Marie-Grace Gardner. Together they form an unlikely friendship...and share a daring adventure! Includes an illustrated "Looking Back" essay about the history of free people of color in New Orleans. Author: Denise Lewis Patrick. Paperback. 120 pages.
This book is second in a series of six books filled with inspiring lessons of compassion, courage, and friendship. Their stories, which are woven together in one six-book series and written by two different authors, include Meet Marie-Grace, Meet Cécile, Marie-Grace and the Orphans, Troubles for Cécile, Marie-Grace Makes a Difference, and Cécile's Gift.
Here are some photos I took of the new Cecile American Girl doll:
The first thing you notice about Cecile is that she doesn't look anything like the illustrations in the books. Both Ceciles have lovely arched eyebrows, but Cecile in the book has almond-shaped eyes, while Cecile the doll has rounder eyes. Her nose, lips and skin color are about the same, but I like Cecile the doll's hair much better. Cecile is a pretty girl in the book illustrations, but Cecile the doll is gorgeous!
The illustrations of Cecile in the book show her with tamed, tight curls, while Cecile the doll's curls are lovely and loose, cascading down the side and back of her head. I'm somewhat nervous about what Cecile's hair is going to look like in 3 months' time, because already her hair is frizzing up.
Check out Cecile's pantalettes and boots! Her pantalettes have a lovely scalloped trim, different from Marie-Grace's, and she wears black boots with gold buttons. They go perfectly with her outfit.
Cecile's outfit is really nice: not too frilly, but definitely girly. I love the combination of black velvet and teal satin, and I love the white pintucked cotton front. It's the kind of dress I would have liked wearing to a party when I was a little girl!
You can purchase the Cecile doll as well as the Cecile-Marie-Grace book set on AmericanGirl.com. For even more fun, check out Cecile's Accessories set, Cecile's nightgown, Cecile's pet parrot and Cecile's outfits.
Disclosure: American Girl sent me a Cecile and Marie-Grace doll. Product information is provided by the featured company/product and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.