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Stay true to you and don't be afraid to stand out: Maryellen's story


Ideas aplenty

In The One and Only, Maryellen is sure all the plans and plots she dreams up can come true. From giving her house an eye-popping makeover to cutting her hair all on her own, Maryellen wants nothing more than to make an impact.


Ready to soar

When the action starts in Taking Off, Maryellen has already helped her two best friends overcome prejudice against a new girl. Together, they all put on a play to support a new polio vaccine—even though Maryellen ends up with stage fright. Only when she shows her creativity during a flying-machine contest does her voice finally shine through.


Guidance for girls today

Standing out, using imagination, teaming up—through her stories, Maryellen becomes a role model for girls confronted with their own obstacles and opportunities:

Being different. Even though her friends think it's strange, Maryellen builds a close connection with a new Italian girl who joins her class.

Celebrating creativity. Maryellen's inventive mind is always looking for fresh ways to be original, and she's never discouraged when her ideas don't go as planned.

Working together. When the boys in the Science Club don't want to listen to Maryellen, she enlists her friends—and their thoughts—into challenging for the top spot in a contest.

Watch why character matters

Creating a hero: Maryellen comes to life

“Maryellen's stories come straight from my own memories and heart. Like her, I'm the middle child in a big, boisterous, Baby Boom family, so I know standing out takes effort. Maryellen's parents encourage her exactly as my parents encouraged me: Be yourself. Challenge assumptions. Use your energy and ability to make the world better.”

— Valerie Tripp, author of the Maryellen series



Authentic from the start

In America, the 1950s were a boom time, often viewed as a golden age of peace and prosperity. But it was also a time of conformity and materialism, with strong social pressures to be like everyone else.

To bring these big themes down to girl size, we sought the talents of Valerie Tripp, who proved to be a rich resource, full of ideas—just like Maryellen. Along with Valerie, our development team explored a broad range of topics to cover in Maryellen's stories: the space race, the Cold War, the stereotyping of women's roles, the lingering effects of polio, the joy of exploring America.

From that research, Maryellen and her world took shape, resulting in a character who, to quote her, "isn't what people expect. In fact, the best ideas"—and characters—"come when you're not trying to be like everyone else."

Putting it all into play


Everything American Girl stands for! I like her story because girls can relate to it! Simple but powerful, Maryellen's story shares the importance of friendship and how one girl can make a difference. I very much recommend her!

American Girl Customer


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