I’m looking for an early-to-mid-90s “American Girl”-style series of short illustrated chapter books about girls living in different periods of world history, each with their own 18-inch doll.
I am definitively NOT remembering Pleasant Company’s own “Girls of Many Lands” series. Believe me, that comes up every time I try to Google this series and it’s not the one I’m thinking of.
The line may have launched with one book for each doll, then gone out of business before publishing more books; I only remember the first book for each character, most likely obtained through the Scholastic Book Fair.
The characters and books were, as well as I can recall:
– An English girl in the 1100s who was into falconry. Name may have been Elinor/Eleanor. Vivid recollection of the cover: a blond girl in a dull blue dress reaching out to touch a falcon.
– An African (I want to say Igbo?) girl from the 1400s. Vivid recollection of her helping her older sister put on makeup before her wedding, including interior illustration of her applying the makeup. (I remember being surprised that they had makeup way back then. For some reason, that’s what stuck with me.)
– A French girl in the 1700s who wanted to be a ballet dancer. Name may have been Marie, or Marie-Something, or Something-Marie. Cover showed her dancing on a Parisian street.
– An Irish immigrant girl living in San Francisco in the late 1800s. Name may have been Bridget or some other extremely Irish name. Cover may have featured her holding a book to her chest and gazing meaningfully off into the distance. She had curly red hair because of course she did. I believe she also had a Chinese immigrant friend or potential friend who barely showed up and whom I hoped I’d read more about in later books. Vivid recollection of one scene in which she and another girl bond over how much they loved “Little Women” and cried over “the part with Beth.”
There may have been more; those are just the four I remember. On the last page of each book was a perforated card with a photograph of the dolls on it. You could tear out the card and send it away with a check to order a doll. They looked very much like American Girl dolls, so much that even as a child I could tell right away, “Oh, these people are totally ripping off American Girl.” But I could forgive them because hey, history’s a lot bigger than just America! Someone’s gotta fill that niche!