Kit Kittredge

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Kit Kittredge
American Girl character
Abigail Breslin as Kit Kittredge.jpg
Kit Kittredge as portrayed by Abigail Breslin.
First appearance Meet Kit
Created by American Girl, Valerie Tripp
Portrayed by Abigail Breslin
Voiced by Kamilah Lay (A Treehouse of My Own)
Tara Strong (Mad)
Information
Full name Margaret Mildred Kittredge[2]
Nickname(s) Kit, Squirt
Occupation Student, amateur journalist
Family Jack Kittredge (Father)
Margaret Kittredge (Mother)
Charles Kittredge (Brother)
Relatives Mildred Morrison (Aunt)[1]
Nationality American
Birth date and place May 19, 1923
Cincinnati, Ohio

Kit Kittredge, also known as Margaret Mildred Kittredge, is a fictional character in the American Girl series of books, written by Valerie Tripp.[3] Kit serves as a protagonist and central character to her story arc, set during the Great Depression.[4] Kit's core series of books was written by Valerie Tripp and illustrated by Walter Rane.

Character design[edit]

Development of the character started in 1998, while series author Valerie Tripp was working on the Josefina books.[5] Tripp cites Cincinnati's proximity to the Ohio River, along with the city's industries, works programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration, and the Cincinnati Union Terminal, as the reasons for her choice of where the Kit Kittredge stories took place. The city's association with baseball, particularly the Cincinnati Reds and player Ernie Lombardi was also incorporated into the narrative.[5]

Character overview[edit]

First of all, I wanted a city in the near Midwest. For all the metaphorical reasons, it was very important that it was on a river, the constant flow, the constant movement and change. Then again, maybe I was working in New Mexico [on the Josefina series] all those years.
Valerie Tripp, Cincinnati Magazine [5]

Kit was born on May 19, 1923 in Cincinnati, Ohio to a well-to-do family, and was named after her mother and her Aunt Millie.[2] She, however, prefers to go by a nickname given to her by her family, which was taken from both her surname and the song Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag.[6] Kit's father, Jack, owned a car dealership business in Cincinnati and was a World War I veteran,[6][7] her father's business still seemed to do well during the onset of the Great Depression, but was eventually forced to close when Jack used up his savings to pay his employees, sending the Kittredges into poverty.

Kit is first seen in Meet Kit wearing a lavander-pink sweater and cardigan, a floral print pleated skirt and a pair of white canvas sandals. As her family suffered financially during the Great Depression, she was later seen wearing hand-me-downs or used clothing, and at one point during her birthday, her aunt Millie made her a dress from feed sacks, for which she was eventually grateful. Kit is the only historical American Girl to have short hair. To reflect her era, her hair is cut into a bob, although in some illustrations she is shown to be wearing it in short pigtails.

With the launch of American Girl's BeForever revamp, Kit's meet outfit was retconned to that of a bright blue-green sleeveless dress with a white Peter Pan collar, and a flared skirt with floral print.[8] Kit's old meet outfit was still available for purchase as a separate item for a time before being discontinued.[9]

Attributes[edit]

Unlike her best friend Ruthie, Kit is a tomboy who cares less about dresses, chores and things that she considers "flouncy", she is more inclined towards baseball (especially Ernie Lombardi of the Cincinnati Reds), adventures such as Robin Hood,[10] country life, and typing up her own news reports, as she dreams of becoming a reporter one day.

Kit hates change, even though at one point she did long for it to happen, and dislikes being dependent on charities, which spurs her fascination with Amelia Earhart, the books also depict her as being stubborn and somewhat fussy, as she finds chores around the house to be rather boring and tedious, though eventually she realizes her family's misfortunes and learns to be more supportive and helpful.

She has a strong sense of pride, but she eventually realizes that she is carried away by it and learns to be humble, and tackle her problems with thrift and cleverness. Kit also tends to be easily embarrassed and irritated, like in Kit Learns a Lesson where she is angered by one of her classmates who teased her for her family's sudden descent into poverty.

Kit is also shown to be close to her father, as depicted in the film, and in the aforementioned part where Kit pushed her classmate for his taunts against her father and family.

Appearances[edit]

Main book series[edit]

First to third books[edit]

Upon hearing about Mrs. Howard and her son Stirling moving into the Kittredge household while her husband was off to Chicago for work, Kit was excited to have a boy of her age to play with, her hopes were dashed when she learns about Stirling's poor health, though both shared their enthusiasm for baseball. Excited, Kit rushes to her room and comes back bringing an article about Ernie Lombardi, only to hit Mrs. Howard causing Kit's mother's dishes to break as they flew off the tray. Margaret chastises Kit for her brash behavior. Angered and disappointed, Kit stormed to her room, blaming Stirling for her misfortune, as she was waiting for her father to come in so she could share her article, Charlie came in, explaining how Kit's situation was nothing compared to those who lost their jobs because of the Depression. Kit, while writing of ways for her to help save money, hoped for her Dad to get a job, but this proved futile as Jack often came home in vain. Kit's mother then comes up with taking in boarders, much to the surprise of Kit's ill-tempered Uncle Hendrick. Kit wasn't pleased with the idea either, more so as Stirling, whom she initially had a chagrined relationship with, will be staying in her old room, and she has to sleep in the attic. Ruthie assures her about the attic, likening it to Sara Crewe's room in A Little Princess. Kit tearfully relents, and makes the most of her new surroundings as she cleaned and fixed her room, to which her mother praised.

Kit and her family are still adjusting to the changes brought by taking up boarders in their household and the chores involved in it in Kit Learns a Lesson, she is hoping that her father would land a job some day, so much that in an altercation, she was incensed at her classmate Roger's remarks towards her father and her family's financial problems, spoiling the preparations for a Thanksgiving pageant. A trip to the local soup kitchen as part of their punishment made her realize the plight of those surrounding her besides her own family, even more so as her father was one of those in line for lunch.

With Kit's family facing financial problems, along with the threat of their house being foreclosed, Ruthie tries to come to Kit's aid in Kit's Surprise, cheering up her best friend with fairy-tale stories and helping her like paying for Kit's movie ticket; Kit feels embarrassed at being subjected to charity and is annoyed at Ruthie's fanciful, idealistic worldview, viewing it as unrealistic. Kit's sense of pride gets the better of her and this eventually led to an argument, begrudgingly parting ways with each other, it also didn't help that Uncle Hendrick is spiteful towards her family, but Kit is grateful for the errands he gave as she earned more than enough to help her family. The heavy snow forced Kit to spend the night at Hendrick's house. Kit has to call Ruthie to ask her to inform her parents about her stay at her uncle's home—Kit apologizes to her best friend, and they both make amends.

Fourth to sixth books[edit]

Kit's Aunt Millie paid a visit from Kentucky to Cincinnati to help out her family, using the moniker "Use It Up, Wear It Down, Make It Due, or Do Without". Kit makes a "Waste-Not Want-Not Almanac", which includes the thrifty tips, and also adopts a dog and names it Grace. When Aunt Millie comes to her school and announces a Penny-Pinching party for her birthday, Kit's classmates now learn of her family's poverty; she loses her temper and lashes out at Aunt Millie, hurting the latter. However, she later feels guilty. Hearing that Aunt Millie is heading back to Kentucky, the family goes to convince her to come back. Kit, knowing that it's her fault, eventually apologizes for her behavior, and shows Aunt Millie the almanac she made, who forgives her, the party is a success.

Kit befriends a young hobo named Will Shepherd in Kit Saves The Day, spurring her fascination with life at the hobo jungle. Having being burned out by the endless chores and errands at home, and with her brother working with the Civilian Conservation Corps in Montana, Kit, with no other choice, decides to go on an adventure with Will, who shared his experiences as a runaway teen leaving his family behind and resorting to morally questionable means to survive such as petty theft and faking illness to gain sympathy. Will reluctantly takes her and Stirling to the dangerous act of "riding the rails"—hitchhiking aboard freight trains, a common practice by destitute people of the time to find work. This fell through when Kit is arrested and jailed for her antics. Feigning illness, Kit escapes, but Will and Stirling are left behind. Kit rushes home to explain the situation to her parents, and they went back to rescue the boys. Kit's experiences with the hobo camp gave her a sense of respect for the less fortunate.

As the Kittredge family adapts to the changes they experienced during the Great Depression, Uncle Hendrick comes to stay at the Kittredge boarding house for the winter. Kit is tasked by Hendrick to write letters to the editor on his behalf expressing his dissatisfaction with society and Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs. His angry letters, some of which were scathing rants at the expense of the hobo community, concerned Kit, which led her to write an editorial in support of those in need, especially about the struggles less fortunate children had to endure. Kit's editorial is published, spurring people to donate goods to children at the soup kitchen.

Kit finally accepts that she was unwilling to accept change and having misfortunes, her behavior had been terrible; she had been prideful, impetuous, shallow, hot-tempered, mean, selfish, defiant, impulsive, prickly, cocky, and thoughtless. Kit learned the error of her ways, admits that she was very insecure, and has now become much flexible, more thoughtful, and much more kinder, with the change of her heart, demeanor and outlook on life, Kit's life is now much more stable. Love, kindness, care, giving, sharing, fairness, tact, respect, common sense, honesty, family, and helping those in need are what shape Kit's life.

Other books[edit]

In addition to being a supporting character in Really Truly Ruthie, a companion book which came bundled with the Ruthie Smithens doll, Kit also appeared in a number of mysteries set in the Kit Kittredge sub-series, and a gamebook where the reader takes on the role of a person who found her way to the past and befriends Kit, of which she embarks on an adventure depending on the reader's choices.

Film rendition[edit]

In the film version, Kit, portrayed by Abigail Breslin, hasn't been radically changed from her original book portrayal; several minor details however were altered in the film, namely her brother Charlie and Aunt Millie as unseen characters and only mentioned in passing, and other changes to her and her relatives' backstory.

In other media[edit]

A feature film Kit Kittredge: An American Girl was released to theaters on July 2, 2008, starring Abigail Breslin in the title role.[11][12][13] Breslin's performance in the film was praised by critics;[14][15] Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal wrote that she "carries the event-stuffed story with unflagging grace".[16] Several new items were added to Kit's collection to coincide with the film.

Two video games based on her stories were also developed and published, namely Kit Mystery Challenge for the Nintendo DS,[17] and the point-and-click adventure game A Tree House of My Own for Microsoft Windows.[18]

Kittredge was also parodied in an episode of the animated comedy show Mad, where she was portrayed as having a daughter who participated in a parody of Toddlers and Tiaras.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brown, Harriet. Kit's Railway Adventure. American Girl Publishing. ISBN 1584855754. She will travel on the New York Central and The Great Northern Railroad's Empire Builder, with her aunt, Mrs. Mildred Weaver Morrison. 
  2. ^ a b Tripp, Valerie. Meet Kit. American Girl Publishing. ISBN 1584850167. Kit's real name was Margaret Mildred Kittredge. She was named after her mother and an aunt of her dad's. 
  3. ^ Douglas, Edward (30 June 2008). "Kit Kittredge Tackles the Great Depression". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "American Girls Guide" (PDF). National Museum of American History. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Harry, Lou (1 October 2010). Cincinnati Magazine. Emmis Communications. pp. 59–63. Retrieved 10 July 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Tripp, Valerie. Meet Kit. American Girl Publishing. ISBN 1584850167. It was a song he'd learned when he was a soldier fighting in the Great War. Kit loved it. Kit'd beg Dad: "Sing my song! Sing the kit song!" Pretty soon everyone began to call her Kit, which was also short for Kittredge, and the name stuck. 
  7. ^ Tripp, Valerie. Meet Kit. American Girl Publishing. ISBN 1584850167. Kit was glad that her dad still had his job at his car dealership. She and Ruthie knew kids at school whose fathers had lost their jobs. 
  8. ^ "American Girl® Clothing: Kit's Outfit". Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  9. ^ American Girl® Clothing: Kit's Classic Outfit, archived from the original on 2015-02-18, retrieved 2016-04-18 
  10. ^ Tripp, Valerie. Meet Kit. American Girl Publishing. ISBN 1584850167. “Mmm,” answered Kit, with a crooked smile. “It’s okay. It’s just a little too... pink for me. I’d rather sleep in a tree house, like Robin Hood.” 
  11. ^ Pimpare, Stephen (2017). Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen. Oxford University Press. pp. 216–. ISBN 9780190660727. Retrieved 10 July 2017. 
  12. ^ Group, Samantha. "Abigail Breslin Talks Kit Kittredge". Scholastic. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  13. ^ Bryson, Carey. "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (2008) - Movie Review for Parents". About.com. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  14. ^ Puig, Claudia (July 3, 2008). "Spunky 'Kit' has kaboodles of charm". USA Today. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  15. ^ Stein, Ruthe (July 2, 2008). "Movie review: Little miss 'Kit Kittredge'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  16. ^ Morgensten, Joe (June 20, 2008). "'Kit Kittredge' Is a Rare Gift For Young Girls". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  17. ^ DeVries, Jack (1 August 2008). "American Girl: Kit Mystery Challenge Review - IGN". IGN. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "American Girl Kit: A Tree House of My Own - GameSpot". GameSpot. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "MAD Episode Guide 2011 Season 2 - Dances With Wolverine; Tater Tots & Tiaras, Episode 10". TV Guide. Retrieved 19 May 2014.