New Jess Character Takes American Girls On An Unforgettable Adventure

2006 Girl of the Year Encourages Exploration and Personal Discovery

Middleton, WI–January 1, 2006–From exploring ancient Maya ruins to kayaking down a river in the Belizean jungle, American Girl’s newest character is about to take girls on an adventure they’ll never forget. Jess is the 2006 Girl of the Year—a contemporary girl who’s adventurous, smart, and sporty, and who comes to life with an 18-inch doll, several outfits and accessories, and a story to tell that’s all her own. Jess’s story will resonate with girls ages 8 and up as she embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime archeological dig with her parents and unexpectedly makes some very real discoveries—about the wonders in the Belizean jungle, about the people who have lived there since long ago, and about herself.

Available for only one year or while supplies last, Jess is the fourth in a series of contemporary characters that give voice to a diverse range of personalities and backgrounds, and show girls today that there is no limit to what they can accomplish. Jess replaces the 2005 Girl of the Year, Marisol™, a dancer who inspired girls to follow their dreams.

The Jess book, written by award-winning author Mary Casanova, introduces readers to Jess Akiko McConnell, a curious and courageous ten-year-old girl who travels to Belize with her archeologist parents to a five-month dig of ancient Maya ruins. Ready for adventure and anxious to explore a new place all on her own, Jess starts counting the many “firsts” of her experience—her first time out of the country, her first trip without her siblings, and her first experience being home-schooled. When Jess meets a new friend, Sarita, and is invited on an eco-adventure, she discovers a sense of pride of learning new things, a deepened appreciation for another way of life, and a heightened understanding of her parents’ love of archeology.

A True Story section at the back of the book focuses on a real girl, Elyse, from Florida who spends every summer in Belize with her archeologist parents, demonstrating to readers that they, too, can find their own personal adventures to grow from in life. A list of informational Web sites is also included for girls to learn more about Belize.

A beautifully crafted 18-inch Jess doll, featuring dark brown, braided hair, light skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and bright island attire, brings the new character to life for girls. Jess’s outfits and accessories consist of everything she needs for her time in Belize, including tropical pajamas and a Belize-inspired tree swing, plus an inflatable kayak and gear for girls to recreate Jess’s river adventure. And for girls who want to achieve Jess’s look, Dress Like Your Doll outfits are also available.

The Jess doll, book, and accessories are currently available at American Girl Place© Chicago and New York, at, and through American Girl’s consumer catalogue. To request a free catalogue, call 1-800-845-0005.


American Girl Brands, LLC., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NYSE: MAT,, the world’s leading toy company. Since American Girl’s inception in 1986, the company has devoted its entire business to celebrating the potential of girls ages 3 to 12. American Girl encourages girls to dream, to grow, to aspire, to create, and to imagine through a wide range of engaging and insightful books, age-appropriate and educational products, and unforgettable experiences. In meeting its mission with a vigilant eye toward quality and service, American Girl has earned the loyal following of millions of girls and the praise and trust of parents and educators. To learn more about American Girl or to request a free catalogue, call 1-800-845-0005 or visit