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American Girls

Author: Allison and Mary

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The series you loved, book by book. Join Allison Horrocks and Mary Mahoney as they explore the wild world of American Girl fandom. In each episode, Allison and Mary will dive into an American Girl book from their (and perhaps your) childhood. Using their knowledge as professional historians and finely tuned instincts as amateur pop culture critics, they’ll take you back to a very different time—the 1990s.
29 Episodes
Newly arrived in Philadelphia, Addy and her mother set out to build a new life. Addy begins attending school and quickly learns the value of good friends (we see you Sarah) and the lure of the mean girl (not cool, Harriet). On Wednesdays, Addy wears pink, but when it comes to the big spelling bee, she crushes it in a new blue dress. As Mary and Allison review this Porter classic, they consider the careful treatment of both friendship & literacy. Filled with a cast of new and rich characters, Addy’s second story exposes northern racism, segregation, and the challenge of making a new life. Join us and dive into a book that makes you cherish your friends and favorite stories more than you already do. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
Book one of Addy Walker’s story opens in a hot and hellish plantation cabin. By the end of her first story, Addy and her mother have taken their freedom, escaping bondage together. In this episode, Mary and Allison examine the corporate origins of Addy’s 1993 debut and a few perspectives on her status as an AG “first.” While considering representations of slavery, family, and whiteness in Addy’s world, the hosts also compare this first book with other characters’ plot lines. Lastly, this show tackles Bachelor Peter, the culture of CHEER, and what should be done about Sherb’s mysterious fall. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
Three's Company

Three's Company


What costs three dollars a month and will change your life?
Fan fiction can take many forms. With that in mind, this episode goes off book and dives feet first into the world of historic textiles. After responding to our invite via Pony Express, Jessica Quirk, founder of The Kirsten Project, agreed to talk about her process. A fashion blogger and seamstress extraordinaire, Jessica has recreated several key Kirsten outfits and has plans to do more. Jessica generously shared what it has been like to make and inhabit carefully reproduced Kirsten style clothing. Along the way, we got to chat about re-enacting, Jane Austen festivals, and why Kirsten’s winter garb looks an awful lot like an ‘80s Mom sweater. As the old saying goes: a stitch in time may save nine, but a sharply made Kirsten pocket will get you many well deserved likes on Instagram. Check out Jessica’s book and her blog - Stars and Field: --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
Riffing on Janet Shaw, the wise songstress Sheryl Crow once said: "a change would do you good." As we read the sixth Kirsten book, we heeded these wise words and phoned a friend. For our discussion of Changes for Kirsten, we are joined by NY Times television critic Margaret Lyons. Working together, we try to find Shonda Rhimes and reason in the plot twists of this book. This proved challenging in a dense volume that includes a raccoon abduction, a house fire, and Kirsten’s discovery of a dead man in a cave.  With Margaret’s guidance, however, we came to a new appreciation of our eponymous yellow -haired heroine. We also stepped outside the text to offer a dramatic reading of the Janet Shaw original "Miss Winston's Reply," a play designed for 4-6 adolescents. Want to hear more American Girls? Sign up for our Patreon: For $3 a month, you'll get an extra episode of American Girls. We'll be covering books, TV shows, film, and other content either from the American Girl universe or other pop culture interests. Yes, this may include the Dear America books. This will be a supplement to our bi-weekly episodes. The first extra episode drops January 27th.  --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
In this very special episode, Mary and Allison meet up with historian and chef Gwen in an undisclosed location. Armed only with munchkins and sheer grit, they set out to make some Food Network magic. As the author and cooking genius behind the blog "A Peek into the Pantry," Gwen brings years of expertise in the kitchen to the show. While making Kirsten's Pepparkakor cookies, Gwen explains how she got into cooking, dishes about her favorite recipes from Kirsten's Cook Book, and ruminates on what American Girl means to her. This episode also features Gwen's wife Jess, who offers her views on children's literature as well as trying times in our nation's history/Ben Affleck's career (yes, we are talking about Pearl Harbor). If you've wondered whether any of the recipes in your American Girl trunk are any good, this bonus Kirsten episode is for you. Learn more about Gwen's work here: --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
Before Jessica Alba had a hip-hop dance career, few may recall that Kirsten Larson was also making gold from honey. In the fifth Kirsten book, we find our young hero has become an unbearably brave woman of the woods. Undaunted by wild bears, Kirsten “saves the day” by finding honeycombs and eventually, creating a new revenue stream for the family. While Mary and Allison question Kirsten’s devotion to beekeeping (Bees? Beads? Her?) they tackle the concepts of wilderness and whiteness. This episode also includes an important discussion on Justin Timberlake and the unresolved, unanswered BOLO for Singing Bird. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
Snitches get stitches, but in this episode, we will see that secret-keepers like Kirsten get full hand-sewn quilts. Book four brings us straight into Gemini season, and plot twists and literal twisters abound. As the family makes plans for both a new barn and a new baby, Kirsten struggles with intense FOMO when new chores demand her attention. While Kirsten believes that her cousins/friends are making a quilt for their beloved teacher, they are in fact stitching together a special surprise for her double digit day. If flower crowns, barn raisings, and mid-19th century birthday parties (hello George Washington) sound like a good time to you, grab a cozy quilt and settle in. And if that doesn't sell it, this episode also includes a discussion of early aughts prairie living, settlement house reality shows, and a connection between Kirsten and the Kardashians. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
We know that not all heroes wear capes. In this episode, we learn that some explore “secret” caves and wear crowns. In “A Surprise for Kirsten,” a poorly timed trek to get luggage results in a near disaster for our eponymous hero and her father. Thankfully, Kirsten saves the day a bit early in her narrative arc—and just in time to be home for the holidays. As we consider Kirsten’s attachment to her belongings, we also examine her primary interests, which seem to be cats, carbs, and candles. If the Kirsten you remember is carrying a tray of goodies and wearing a wreath, this episode is for you. Come for the holiday magic and stay for our call to start investing now in $5,000 American Girl dolls in time for the season. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
During this episode, Mary and Allison channel a young Kirsten Larson and immediately hit the books. Diving right into Kirsten’s second story, the hosts start by examining her jarring introduction to the American classroom and all that entails (spoiler: threats of violence and male misbehavior). As they explore the power trips and perils of one-room schoolhouses, Mary and Allison also apply a laser sharp focus on the wonder that is Kirsten’s teacher, Miss Winston. To the surprise of us all, however, this wielder of rulers and molder of minds isn’t the most curious character in the book. Throwing memories of Marta to the wind, Kirsten becomes “best friends” with a local indigenous girl named Singing Bird. This revelation of course leads to a broader discussion of friendship, language barriers, and representations of native people in children's books. So, crack open your chalk, grab your slate, and prepare to get schooled. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
In this episode, we talk about the misadventures of not one, but three American girls who have found themselves in the Big Apple. After briefly recounting their experience at the American Girl Store in New York, NY, Mary and Allison launch into Kirsten’s first book, set in 1854. In under 60 pages, Kirsten’s story covers the travails of mid-19c immigration, cholera, steamboats, the thrill of hot train rides, and long walks to new beginnings. As they rediscover Kirsten’s life and times, the hosts also consider other children’s literature on migration and favorite primary sources on historic disease (miasma talk anyone??). In the words of the Larsons - have heart and come along for this next AG adventure. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
On this very special episode, Allison and Mary talk with Allison Marek, a psychotherapist specializing in working with people with eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and trauma. After we Meet Allison, she teaches us about the enneagram and shares her journey with American Girl. Allison then offers her professional perspective on the death of Mrs. Montoya, Mr. Montoya's unhealthy communication style, and Josefina's feelings of shame. This episode also includes insights into how you can be a good friend to someone who is grieving and healthy ways to process your emotions. Don't miss this conclusion to our summertime sadness and coverage of Josefina. You can learn more about Allison Marek on her website: --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
Josefina Journeys Part 1

Josefina Journeys Part 1


In this episode, the hosts examine fan fiction about Josefina Montoya. After quickly realizing that there was a comparative dearth of material about Josefina and the Montoyas, Allison and Mary got to work and commissioned their listeners. As we are now all fond of saying, "Tia Dolores did it," and in this case, you did, too. Through the written word and through song, listeners took action and demanded new pasts, futures, and journeys for Josefina and Tia D. We consider the major trends and the bleak plotlines imagined by Josefina's fans. In the realm of pop culture, we also give our takes on the elite politics of Succession and the artwork of Amalia Mesa-Bains. Stick around for the end of the episode when we announce the winner of our first ever #GOAT Goat Writing Contest. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
In the last book in the Josefina canon, we find that it is not just comedies that end in weddings--sometimes tragedies do too. To bring the Montoyas' story to a close, author Valerie Tripp arranges a marriage between Papa and Tia Dolores, who will now take on the mantle of stepmother. While this book finds Josefina pondering the future of her family, Mary and Allison use this opportunity to consider the overall arc of the series and what it conveys about nationalism. The hosts also consider a new line of empowerment Barbies, some important news coverage, and an Ashanti sighting. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
In Josefina Saves the Day, the Americans have arrived and things get (el Camino) Real for the Montoyas and everyone’s favorite interloper, Tia Dolores. For this summer story, the family visits grandpa’s compound just outside of Santa Fe for a big trade meetup. Armed with the fruits of Tia D’s forced labor experiment, they are ready to make some cold hard coin. After luring a young Missourian scout with a clay pipe, Josefina fears that the Jason-Bateman-like Patrick O’Toole is not a trustworthy trade partner. Eventually, Josefina channels both Felicity Merriman & Nancy Drew to save the family’s big trade, but not before a bizarre night out in Santa Fe. As Mary and Allison discuss Josefina’s spring-break-like jaunt, they consider what it means for her to be an “American” hero in the context of US imperial intrusion. They also tackle the film trailer of the moment, LITTLE WOMEN, pig history, and most important of all, a Leo season engagement.  --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.



Why do fools fall in love? Why is the earth round? What is the meaning of life? Does Mary have a seltzer preference? We answer some of these questions, and many more, in this very special episode. During this brief detour from Josefina’s summertime sadness, we take listener questions and read from some of our correspondence with listeners. Trust us, it’s worth the Tripp. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
Josefina: you know her, you love her, and at this point, you wish she could just catch a break. In book four, we find Josefina learning healing practices, both losing and then gaining a goat, and getting shortchanged on her first double -digit birthday. Though most of this book is about Josefina learning to do emotional labor and herbal medicine, Mary and Allison took this opportunity to examine whether Ms. Montoya is really a Pisces or is perhaps a Cancer or Taurus.  They also question the continued lack of joy and friendship in Josefina’s life and the heavy overtones of Catholic shame that tinge her one moment of youthful hijinks. Finally, the hosts consider a few of the podcasts and television shows that are part of their world this summer.  --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
Surprise! We are three books into the Josefina series and everyone in the Montoya household is still super sad. As Mary and Allison continue their exploration of Josefina’s colonial world, they find her Christmas story to be both deeply moving and riddled with Catholic guilt. As the sisters continue to grapple with the loss of Mama, their grief is eclipsed only by Dolores’s drive to work. While evaluating the town’s Freudian passion play that is at the center of the action, Mary reveals her own thespian past & a Quincinera connection.  Finally, after unlocking a potential connection to the film Sister Act 2, Mary and Allison consider how religion has shaped American girls from Josefina to Hannah B. Perhaps most importantly, the hosts also use this episode to consider whether Bachelor contestants are most deserving of encounters with the sublime (i.e. Vermeer paintings and Dollywood). --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
In Episode 10, we explore Josefina Learns a Lesson, the second book in the Josefina series. One lesson we learn right away is never to judge a book by its (beautifully illustrated) cover. Though this book promises a school story, what it delivers is a story about a family being schooled by their once-absent aunt, Tia Dolores. Following a disastrous flood, Tia Dolores seizes her chance to inflict her priorities on the family. After making the family business solvent, Dolores begins her hotly contested campaign for literacy. Over the course of this episode, Mary and Allison consider Josefina's growing skillset (family therapy, weaving, sewing, spreading Catholic guilt) and whether Dolores is really just fleecing the Montoyas. We also wrap up our coverage of the HBO mega-hit Gentleman Jack, Taylor Swift’s contribution to Pride Month, and the couple bringing measles back. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
In episode nine, we turn our gaze to the American Southwest & the youthful, plucky Josefina Montoya. Our analysis of Josefina’s books begins with two powerful questions—first, given the place and time, is this the story of a colonial girl? Second, just how many references to Tejana queen Selena will we make per episode? While representations of imperialism in early American history are hard to unpack, over the course of this show, we’ll reveal why Meet Josefina had us reeling for still other reasons. Maybe you didn’t see how this book set in an 1820s borderland community (what’s now New Mexico) was essentially ripped from the 1990s melodrama THE PIANO.  But once you hear our take on Tia Dolores, you’ll see that’s why we’re here—note: we are also here to remind you of 90s crossover stars gone too soon.  At the end of this episode, we put out a special call for you to contact our hotline! You may reach us at 1-860-455-4091 with YOUR hot takes for Pride Month 2019. Whether you think Molly is the queerest of them all, or just have to share your Samantha take, reach out to us!  --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.
Comments (2)

Tyler Beach


Sep 16th

Claire Elizabeth

Loved that this exists!! flashback to my childhood!!

May 16th
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