Marie-Grace & Cecile Series

Aug 3, 2012

Now I've inevitably gotten a little bit lazy so I decided to kill two birds with one stone (rather, kill 6 birds with one stone) and do a joint review of all six books in the relatively new American Girl series starring Cecile Rey and Marie-Grace Gardner. 

"Foreword": I want to say a few words about the structure of the series. The entire series, like the rest of the American Girl books, is told in third-person limited narrative, but depending on the title of the book, each has a different PoV (e.g. Troubles for Cecile, book #4, is told in Cecile's point of view).

Also, the first two books, Meet Marie-Grace and Meet Cecile tell the same story from different point of views. For example (the first passage is from Meet Marie-Grace):

Cecile had warm brown skin, and Marie-Grace guessed that she was a free person of color. What should I say to her? Marie-Grace wondered. Then she remembered how Papa always said that all people should be treated the same. So Marie-Grace followed Mademoiselle Oceane's example. "I'm pleased to meet you," she said as she held out her hand to the other girl.

This is from Meet Cecile:

Marie-Grace blushed and stepped closer to Cecile. "I'm pleased to meet you," she said softly, holding out her hand. For a moment, Cecile only looked at her. The girl's accent sounded familiar... she was une Americaine! Would she be offended to stand in the same room with a person of color, as the man in the sweet shop had been? Cecile wasn't sure how to behave.
As you can see, although the second passage has the words, "Marie-Grace blushed and stepped closer to Cecile....," it doesn't say anything about what Marie-Grace thought. But in essence, both describe the same thing: the moment when Cecile and Marie-Grace meet. In addition, another clue that both are the same thing is the quote by Marie-Grace: "I'm pleased to meet you."

Summary: Marie-Grace, the daughter of a prominent doctor, moved to New Orleans, so that her father could work there. She is used to moving, but this time, she is moving back to the bustling city where she had been born. Soon, she meets Cecile Rey, a student of a famous opera singer, Mademoiselle Oceane, and the two become fast friends. Marie-Grace gets to take voice lessons, too.


Books 1 and 2: Meet Marie-Grace and Meet CecileMarie-Grace moves to New Orleans and becomes friends with Cecile Rey. When an invitation arrives for Marie-Grace to attend the Children's Opera Ball, a Mardi Gras masquerade ball, both girls borrow costumes from their singing teacher, Mademoiselle Oceane, although Cecile may only attend the ball for colored girls. At the ball, Cecile reveals that their costumes are identical, and says that they should go to each other's balls for just one dance.

Book 3, Marie-Grace and the Orphans: Marie-Grace discovers a baby orphan on her doorstep, and it very well may be a slave baby! If the slave owner finds him, he will surely have to go back. So, Marie-Grace plans to take the boy to Holy Trinity Orphanage. But there's just one problem: If "Philip," as Marie-Grace calls him, isn't accepted to Holy Trinity, for he is a light-skinned African-American, he will have to go to the colored orphanage, where the owner, might think to look!

Book 4, Troubles for Cecile: Cecile's brother, Armand, gets sick from the deadly yellow fever. What will happen to him?

Book 5, Marie-Grace Makes a Difference: Marie-Grace volunteers at the Holy Trinity Orphanage whenever she has spare time, because there's nothing to do at home. Papa is gone all day to cure patients of yellow fever, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Curtis, has decided it's too dangerous to stay in New Orleans. But day after day the orphanage receives more and more children. Suddenly, even her singing teacher, Mademoiselle Oceane, is sick!

Book 6, Cecile's Gift: Cecile wishes she could do something more than volunteer at orphanages. Despite their efforts, children at the orphanage are often hungry and sad. So when a benefit for the entire city's orphanages is announced, Cecile jumps at the chance to recite a poem. She wants to pick one whose message would be clear to the children, not only the adults. But when she performs the poem for Perrine, an orphan at the colored orphanage, she is devastated that Perrine couldn't understand the lyrical words. Then she decides to write her own poem, and everything changes.