A Conversation with Jen Calonita, Author of American Girl Z Yang’s First Book!

Finally!

Three years after Mattel’s American Girl brand retired its only Asian American historical doll, Ivy Ling, it has introduced another, Suzanne Yang, who’s better known by her nickname, “Z”! Z Yang represents the latest effort in American Girl’s intentional push for greater diversity in its characters, something I wrote about in my previous post.

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An American Dad, an American Girl Special

Scooby, Scooby-Doo, Can’t See You

When I was in the third grade, my mom gave me some devastating news:

Son, you are going back to Chinese School!

I was shocked. Incredulous, I asked if she was kidding. But she was totally serious. Our church, an ethnic Chinese Christian church, was launching its own Chinese School, and I was going to be a student.

I broke down crying, on the spot.

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American Girl Power

As a feminist Asian dad, I am constantly on the lookout for empowering books, toys, and role models. My hope is that these will inspire in my daughters a sense of pride and confidence in being both girls and Asian Americans.
When my wife and I told our seven-year-old daughter the news that the doll was no more, our girl screamed and burst into tears. It was a surprising reaction, considering she did not own the doll, nor had she ever seen it in person.

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