Team Caroline

Have you ever thought about how many people are involved with producing the American Girl books, dolls, and accessories? It takes a whole team to see such a big project through from idea to publication!

My books about Caroline Abbott, American Girl’s newest historical character, will be available very soon. I’ve loved hearing from readers who are eager to read Caroline’s stories.

I’m eager for publication day too. I spent over three years researching, writing, and revising those six books:  Meet Caroline, Caroline’s Secret Message, A Surprise For Caroline, Caroline Takes A Chance, Caroline’s Battle, and Changes for Caroline.  But I didn’t work alone.

A researcher is assigned to each book project, which is wonderful—most publishing companies aren’t able to do this! As I began researching 1812, the time period for Caroline’s stories, the researcher helped identify good sources of information. He reviewed drafts of each story, checking for errors. He contacted expert historians and asked them to review the stories as well. The researcher also found many of the historic objects and images that helped inspire Caroline’s clothing and belongings.

Here’s researcher Mark Speltz at work in the library.  He’s great at finding resources I might have missed!

I also worked closely with my editor. When we started developing story ideas for Caroline, we had lots of meetings to discuss possibilities. Once I started writing the stories, the editor carefully reviewed each draft. She told me what she thought worked well, and offered suggestions to help make the story better. We worked through many drafts for each of the six stories.

Peg Ross, my editor, spends a lot of time reading through my manuscripts to make sure the stories are strong and flow well. We’ve worked on 15 books together!

In addition to the primary editor, other editors at American Girl read each draft and offered feedback. As we finalized each story, copyeditors helped make sure that each word and sentence and paragraph was clear, and that I hadn’t made mistakes with grammar and punctuation.

While the editors and I worked on the stories, the art director was working with the artists chosen to illustrate the Caroline books. They discussed ideas for cover art and the illustrations. The artists created rough sketches of their ideas, just as I wrote rough drafts. And while I revised my stories, the artists revised their paintings. The final results are fantastic!

Meanwhile, other people were busy developing the Caroline doll to represent the heroine of my stories. They also created her accessories, and the paper doll and crafts books that will accompany her. The talented people involved with those projects worked with the editor and researcher, so everything was connected.

As you can see, it takes a lot of people to launch a new historical character like Caroline. Everyone I’ve met at the company is passionate about what they do.  Everyone cares very much about American Girl readers, and has high standards for producing books that are fun to read and historically accurate.

And everyone is as excited about launch day as I am.  Check back in early September, and I’ll have a lot more to share about Caroline Abbott!

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14 Responses to “Team Caroline”

  1. patrice monaco Says:

    i am so impressed with all that you do. you are such a cool person. i wish my little girl was still little sometimes so i could share more american girl books with her. she learned to story map with those books. so did my son as he had to listen as i read them to her. actually he was younger but caught onto the story mapping first. the art work is always beautiful. you have the best job. will all 6 come out at once or one at a time?

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Hi Patrice! Thanks for visiting and sharing. I am indeed very lucky–I get to do work that I love. I am passionate about helping young readers get excited about books and history and writing. And all of my books for American Girl have been gorgeously illustrated, which is a special treat for any author. All six of the Caroline books will be published at once, and they will be available starting on September 4.

  2. Renee R Says:

    Congratulations, Kathleen! Can’t wait to get a look at these. And, wow, Mark has a great job (it goes without saying that you do, too).

  3. Sylvia Paulsen Says:

    Hi Kathleen,

    My almost-15-year-old daughter and I just booked reservations for brunch with you at the Seattle AG Place in November! Sydney is as giddy about meeting you, a real AG author, as she would have been at age 9! She has an incredible understanding and passion for history because of the seeds planted while reading all her AG books through the years. We are counting down the days until we can buy all of your books, and we’re thrilled about the possibility of getting them signed. To say we are looking forward to meeting you in November is a great understatement!

    It is so interesting to read about the process of putting together an American Girl character. We have had many questions over the years, and you did a lovely job of explaining the different phases of development. It is so awesome to know about the care that goes into historical accuracy, and the many people who are involved.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for the monumental amount of dedication you have put into writing this new series.


    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Sylvia, thanks so very much for connecting. Lots of people have been curious about the process that goes into creating a new historical character, so I was happy to share. After such a long period of development, I’m very excited about visiting the AG stores and having the chance to introduce Caroline to readers! Now I have a special reason to look forward to my visit to Seattle. I look forward to meeting you and Sydney.

  4. the1812er Says:

    I want to give you an extra big THANK YOU! for bringing the War of 1812 to life- I’ve been reading the American Girl books since I was 7, and even though I’m 16 now I still never get tired of them- I started jumping around and screaming when I found out that they were releasing a War of 1812 character, and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the books.

    Thanks to you and everyone else who worked so hard to do this. I’ve been thinking AG should do an 1812 character for years and so this is almost like a dream come true.

    Thank you! 🙂 I wish I could come to one of the author meets but I live in Canada.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      I’m so glad you shared your thoughts! Doing an 1812 character was very rewarding, in part because it gave me (and all of Team Caroline) a chance to delve into an era that in this country is sometimes overlooked. And although I appreciate the dramatic events that took place in other areas (such as Baltimore and Washington DC), the history along the border was fascinating (and sometimes heartrending) to explore. I grew up in Maryland, by the way–a border state during our Civil War. I’ve thought and written a lot about people caught in the middle.

      I hope you enjoy the Caroline books. I did a little research in Canada, and I’ll be sharing some of that experience here in weeks to come. You may also enjoy a post I did at the time:

  5. Amelia Rose Says:

    Love the books! So beautiful. Since “Her heart is her compass” the compass bullet (I think that’s what they’re called) is creative, too!

  6. Janet Wanamaker Says:

    Merry Chtistmas, Kathleen! My niece opened her Caroline mini-doll and book set. I was excited to see that you were the author. I told her about your visit to the Neenah Public library a few years ago. Now we’re checking your web page. Great job to you and your team.

  7. Janice DiMonda Says:

    Thank you so much for selecting Sackets Harbor as Caroline’s home. It is such a wonderful honor for our small village. I have truly enjoyed all the stories and look forward to reading them to my daughter very soon in preparation for your visit and tea party this summer. I look forward to meeting you and celebrating these wonderful stories.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Thanks for connecting, Janice! Sackets Harbor offered lovely and rich possibilities to explore in the books, and I also wanted to introduce the Great Lakes’ war to readers. I had a wonderful time visiting in the research phase and imagining Caroline and her family there. And I can hardly wait for my July visit! I look forward to meeting you then.

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