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Literature / American Girls: Kit

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Kit Kittredge, released in 2000, was the seventh historical character of the American Girls Collection, representing The Great Depression.

Margaret Mildred "Kit" Kittredge is a young tomboy in 1934 Cincinnati who dreams of becoming a reporter. However, she and her family must adjust to living sparingly as the consequences of the Depression begin to affect them.

Books in the series:

  1. Meet Kit
  2. Kit Learns a Lesson
  3. Kit's Surprise
  4. Happy Birthday, Kit!
  5. Kit Saves the Day
  6. Changes for Kit

A film adaptation, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, was released in 2008. It starred Abigail Breslin as Kit.


The series includes the following tropes:

  • Adapted Out: In Kit's movie, Charlie and Aunt Millie both function as The Ghost; they're referred to, but you only see Charlie in a photograph in the background. Other characters have their significance cut down (Uncle Hendrick and Roger each only have a scene or two) but remain in the story. However, she's the only one whose movie doesn't adapt out her pet.
  • Affectionate Nickname: "Kit" is not actually her real name. It's Margaret Mildred Kittredge. Dad used to sing her a song with the lyrics "Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile," and she loved the song so much the nickname stuck.
  • Alliterative Name: Zig-zagged as Kit is just a nickname, and it caught on because it formed an alliterative name. Her real name is Margaret, but her full name is Margaret Mildred Kittredge.
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  • Bathroom Break-Out: Kit pulls this off with a window.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In "Danger at the Zoo, A Kit Mystery", Kit's friend Stirling is leading a Zoo Guide tour and introduces the crowd to Rascal the baboon, who, despite his scary looks, is so fond of children that he throws things when he sees children being roughly handled. Later in the story, one of the zoo policemen grabs Kit, who he thinks is up to no good, preventing her from chasing the thieves who have been breaking into the zoo; as luck would have it, he does this in front of Rascal's cage and the baboon beans him in the head with a thrown ball, causing him to release Kit.
  • Cool Big Sis: Gender-Inverted Trope—Kit's older brother Charlie is open and honest with his sister about what their family is going through.
  • Cool Old Lady: Aunt Millie
  • Dad the Veteran: Kit's father was in World War I.
  • Daddy's Girl: Even when things are hard, and he feels like he failed his family, Kit adores her father.
  • Disappeared Dad: Stirling's dad, who "flew into the coop".
  • Genre Shift: Kit's movie is mostly a historical drama, but detours into a kid-power mystery adventure with villains not present in the books.
  • Girliness Upgrade: Kit states that she doesn't like pink, and her collection originally reflected this with no pink outfits and items. Once her movie came out, Kit got a batch of pink outfits and a pink blanket.
  • The Great Depression: The setting.
  • Grumpy Old Man/Jerkass: Uncle Hendrick. He thinks less of his niece's husband for paying his workers with his own money, and hates Roosevelt out of a belief that poor people are lazy and don't deserve his help.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Got her own movie.
  • Meaningful Name: Kit's middle name is "Mildred" meaning "gentle strength" and she is as big-hearted as she's strong and determined, something she has inherited from her namesake aunt.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Why Max Thieriot was cast as Will Shepherd when the AG movies went theatrical. Charlie in the book illustrations too.
  • Pet the Dog: Uncle Hendrick gets a mild one in Kit's Surprise, when he tells Kit to keep the money he was going to pay for a shoe shine after she did it herself (because the store was out of business), and allows her to earn more money in this fashion going forward. It's not exactly a massive expression of generosity (if he were truly generous, he'd help the family out more substantially and without expecting anything in return — God knows he has the money to do so), but despite his miserly ways, he chooses to be what he would consider fair to Kit (paying her the same as he would pay a professional for the same task) rather than take advantage of her by taking the money back, even though it's to his own (admittedly slight) detriment.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: In Kit's Surprise, Kit and Ruthie fight because Ruthie's attempt to cheer Kit up and save their Christmas tradition by giving her a hand-me-down dress makes things worse, with Kit finding the gesture short-sighted and patronizing.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni Kit and Blue Oni Ruthie.
  • Shrinking Violet: Stirling is a rare gender inverted example.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Given how the series focuses on The Great Depression and on a family acclimating from an upper-middle class lifestyle to one where they open their home up to borders, it's bound to come up:
    • Margaret's elderly Uncle Hendrick's response to his nephew-in-law losing his car dealership and paying his workers with his savings was to lament how he always knew how foolish he was, rub their faces in it, and talk about how he "won't throw good money after bad" and believes hobos and other poor people are lazy and don't deserve help.
    • A less hostile situation between Margaret and Aunt Millie, not that they are snobby or slobby but Margaret came from a wealthy background and while she did acclimate quickly to her new lifestyle and accepted people to room and board at her home, she is not pleased about Millie (a former schoolteacher from a rural town in the Appalachian Mountains) bringing her thrifty but "country" ways like keeping chickens and maintaining a vegetable garden in broad sunlight.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Of all people, Uncle Hendrick and Elsie Mundis in Kit's mystery Intruders at Rivermead Manor. When Hendrick and Elsie were teenagers, Elsie's parents forbade her from hanging out with other young men. Elsie also turned down Hendrick's marriage proposal since she couldn't marry without her parents' blessings, resulting in Hendrick's Jerkass nature as an elderly man.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Kit and her best friend Ruthie, who loves princesses, fairy tales, and glamorous movie stars.
  • Truth in Television: Kit's dream of being a journalist is child's play compared to Hilde Lysiak, an American child author whose exploits have gained national attention such as when she covered a grisly murder of all things at nine years old.
  • Wham Line: When Kit goes to the soup kitchen and serves soup to a man who turns out to be her father.