My older daughter looooves her American Girl dolls. She has been playing with them a lot lately since we've been staying home sorting out stuff and packing. She has Kit Kettridge, Mia (doll of the year 2008), and a Just-like-me doll that she has named Selena. The American Girl dolls have become an amazing phenomena among young girls, partly perhaps because mothers love them too :-). Each of the character dolls comes with a full story line, books, movies, costumes, furniture, etc. Many are based on historical characters and are educational as children learn about the doll's time period, and what life was like then, while enjoying the back story of the doll. The store itself, on Fifth Avenue, is a tourist destination, and a heaven for all doll-lovers. It has a restaurant where girls can enjoy tea, lunch or dinner with their dolls, a hair salon and a hospital for damaged dolls, a theater and of course beautiful displays of the dolls.
When I first heard about the American Girl doll from my daughter (who was whining to get one at age 5) I dismissed it as just another marketing ploy for children. But since then I have actually become a fan. I much prefer my daughter to play with these wholesome dolls rather than barbies with their super skimpy outfits. Of course, the American Girl dolls are masterfully marketed, and insanely expensive, but I have to admit that compared to many other toys, these dolls are superb quality and have returned countless hours of playtime pleasure. My daughter continues to play with her dolls, now with her younger sister in tow.