American Girl’s 2022 Girl of the Year is Asian! But she’s not the first

Let’s celebrate – American Girl’s 2022 Girl of the Year doll is Corrine Tan, a Chinese American character hailing from Colorado! She also comes with a “little sister” doll, Gwynn, the first time American Girl (hereafter AG) has packaged a Girl of the Year with a sibling. Neither my daughters nor I have read the Corrine books yet, but reportedly, Corrine explores her Asian heritage as part of her storyline, and she even has to deal with anti-Asian prejudice on some level. And AG tapped none other than Wendy Shang, author of the popular middle grade novel The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, to pen the Corrine stories. Big thanks to AG and its parent company Mattel!

Corrine, Gwynn, and Flurry.

But I do want to correct a bit of misunderstanding. NBC News’ website (see above link) is calling Corrine AG’s first Asian American Girl of the Year, which she isn’t. There’s no question that anytime a mega brand like AG brings consumers Asian American representation through one of its most visible products, that it’s a win. But there have been Asian Girls of the Year before – the 2006 Girl of the Year, Jess Akiko McConnell, has a Japanese mother, and the 2011 Girl of the Year, Kanani Akina, has a Japanese-Hawai’ian dad. And there are AAPI dolls in AG’s other lines, including 1940s Nanea Mitchell in their best-known BeForever collection and Emerson in their Wellie Wishers set. (My daughters’ immediate comments on seeing the 2022 dolls were that Corrine has the same face mold as Nanea, and Gwynn looks like Emerson with straight hair.) That being said, Corrine is still a delightful addition to the Girl of the Year line; I mean, check out the baozi and boba that’s part of her home life set!

Baozi and boba, bottom right.

AG has had a mixed track record with Asian representation, one that I’ve commented extensively on, with respect to retired dolls Ivy Ling and Z Wang and their online specials and books. But it is heartening to see this victory for representation!

The Wheel of Time: Two Things That Will Keep Me Watching

Fantasy stories are one of my favorite genres, and I’ve experienced them in print (J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion is my favorite), online (I use Naver’s Webtoon app almost as often as I use Google Maps), and on film (I’ve seen The Lord of the Rings  trilogy around 12 times, which translates into about four-and-a-half days out of my total existence). When I was young, I also got to know them through role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, which draw heavily from fantasy literature.

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The CW’s “Kung Fu” Powerfully Addresses Sexual Assault

SPOILER ALERT: Major spoilers for the fourth episode of Kung Fu (the CW version) lie beyond the period at the end of this sentence.

TW: Gender-based violence.

We interrupt the grading of junior high math tests (60 down, 40 to go) to share some reflections on a remarkable scene at the end of “Hand,” the fourth episode in the new Kung Fu series.

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