Lindsey put her book down just as Nicki came into the study room to get ready to do her homework. Lindsey looked at her outfit and grinned, “You got the email too?”
“You mean Jess’s email telling all the GOTYs to wear their meet clothes? Yes.”
“I’m trying to figure out why,” Lindsey contemplated.
“Well, we haven’t done a photo shoot together in years so I’m guessing that’s why.”
“Nicki,” Lindsey said condescendingly, “Jess is not the photo taking type. I don’t even think she owns a camera. She’d rather be climbing mountains, swimming, or going on some crazy outside adventure than posing for a picture, or taking one for that matter.”
Just then, the doorbell rang and since the study was right next to the front door, Lindsey and Nicki were first to get there followed by others who had heard it ring and were curious to find out who it might be.
“Oh, my, gosh,” spoke Nicki slowly, “It can’t be another doll.”
“It’s not just another doll,” responded Lindsey, “the box says Lea Clark. This is the GOTY of the present.”
“We’ve never gotten a GOTY while she’s GOTY! What should we do with her?” McKenna asked.
“I say we put her up in the closet like The dolls between us until Christmas,” announced Lindsey.
“What’s the point of that? She’s the GOTY right now, we should enjoy her while she reigns supreme for this year,” Nicki countered.
“Make way, people!” cried a new voice, “someone told me the door bell rang.”
Jess walked in and gasped, “She’s here! I’ve been waiting for her for so long and now she’s here at last!”
“You knew about this?” asked Lindsey.
“Of course I knew, I was the one who begged Heather-the-human to get her for her birthday.”
“Her birthday? Heather’s birthday is in March.”
“I know, but when I saw that the GOTY was just like me I thought it was going to take a year for me to persuade Heather to get her for me. And then I found out that she really liked her too, but she said she wouldn’t buy her unless she went on sale. I was heartbroken because I guessed it would be like Grace, I’d get her at the end of December when she goes on a 30% sale. And then, suddenly, she went on sale in January and Heather got her! Finally, I can actually have a best friend.”
By this time, a whole bunch of dolls had gathered at the door to see what the commotion was all about.
“All right, guys, are you ready for me to reveal the new Girl of the Year, Lea Clark?” Jess said with great drama.
“I guess so,” muttered Lindsey without any enthusiasm. Jess made a face at her as she lifted the lid off her box.
Despite the lack of enthusiasm many of the dolls couldn’t help saying, “Ooh” as they saw her cute sandals, colorful dress, and gorgeous hair.
Lea fluttered her eyes, sat up and looked around.
“Hi Lea, welcome to our house of many dolls! I cannot wait to get to meet you! I have so many plans that we’re going to do together. The only thing is, everything I want to do needs to happen in the summertime or somewhere tropical.”
“It sure doesn’t feel like summertime here” Lea said, “I’ve been freezing cold since I was first strapped into this box.”
“True,” admitted Jess, “you have arrived in the middle of winter, but I am going to take you on a trip in my imagination to a place where it is summer all the time! You and I, and anyone else who wants to come, are going on a trip to Brazil!”
“In your imagination?” Lindsey snorted.
“My imagination is far stronger than you think,” Jess argued, “close your eyes and imagine a warm green place where the humid air almost feels oppressive and if you stand still you can hear all sorts of animal sounds and feel the drip of water drops on your skin coming from giant green trees that have trunks so big and covered with vines that it would take a thousand dolls to wrap around it.”
“Wow, I can smell it and even feel it and-” Lea opened her eyes, “Whoa!! I can even see it!”
Lea suddenly found herself in a rainforest with a group of hikers led by a guide wearing a very green tropical outfit.
“Right this way, everyone,” she was saying, “as you all know, the rainforest has different levels. We are standing on the forest floor where you can find all sorts of interesting things including large animals like cats, and armadillos, and even elephants. The forest floor is the most important part of the forest. Because it is so dark and damp here, everything decays very quickly so micro-organisms can eat. Micro-organisms are the beginning of the food chain.
Just a bit above us, where you can see more of the trunks of the trees is the understory layer. Thousands of insects can be found here. You never know, but you might even find a borealis butterfly! Bats, monkeys, and lizards are also common here. “
“What about sloths? Can you find them there too?” McKenna asked.
“Of course you can!” smiled Megan knowing that both of them had read Lea’s books.
“You like sloths?” Lea asked, “I got a chance to rescue one once.”
“I know,” McKenna smiled even more, “I had a chance to read about you before you arrived.”
Lea was glad that her books had gotten around to so many people. That meant that her message about saving the rainforests was getting out. She didn’t have a chance to respond because Megan had started walking again.
Lea noticed that everyone was in special hiking gear except for her. McKenna was wearing rough hiking boots and a weatherproof jacket to keep out the rain. She was even carrying a camera. Lea had no idea where her camera was and she was still wearing her pretty dress that Camila had given to her. And her sandals were not at all meant for hiking. She hoped they wouldn’t be climbing any cliffs.
Lanie was wearing hiking shorts and sturdy sandals. Her shirt even had a rainforest lightening bug on it.
Alison was even more prepared with a jacket that had tons of pockets so she could keep her map and other necessary items. She saw Lea look at her and grinned, “I read your book too, and decided to be very safe and carry a map and a compass so we don’t get lost.”
“That’s a good idea,” Lea said, “I had brought a compass on my last hike, but a map would have been good too.”
“Lucky you had your pictures though.”
“Yeah,” puzzled Lea, “You don’t happen to know where my camera is do you?”
Alison shook her head. “And,” Lea suddenly looked around the group, “where is Jess? I thought this was her imagination. Shouldn’t she be with us?”
“Didn’t you hear? She said she forgot to do something and would meet us when we’re done hiking.”
Lea hiked through the dark forest floor. Sometimes they would walk through patches that were lighter, but the thick canopy above hid almost all of any direct sunlight.
Megan stopped the hike once more and turned to their little group, “Can anyone tell me what the next layer of the rainforest is?”
“Is it the canopy?” Lanie asked.
“Yes! The canopy is where animals such as monkeys, tree frogs, and birds like toucans live. They eat seeds and fruit from the trees and need to be able to hop, jump and glide through the branches and vines.”
“I wish we could climb a tree and go up there,” said Alison wistfully.
Lea looked up at the green canopy and gasped, “Look!”
Through the branches of a tree, the group spotted what Lea was pointing at.
“Did you know that sloths spend most of their time in trees?” Megan informed.
“Yes!” cried Lea, “Their claws make it difficult to walk on the ground so they hang from the tree branches. My brother and I saved a baby sloth who’s claws had been broken.”
“Sloths are not only good tree climbers, although they do climb very slowly, just 6 to 8 ft per minute, they’re also good swimmers. Sometimes they’ll fall from the branches into a pool or river and swim.”
“They’re so cute! I wish I could take one home as a pet,” said McKenna.
“I’m not sure if you’d really want to do that,” Megan responded, “Sloths have fur that you probably wouldn’t really want to touch since algae lives in it. It’s a good thing for the sloth because it helps to camouflage it. And, there’s a reason why sloths live in tropical places. Because their muscles move so slowly, if they get cold they can’t shiver. So, if a nursing female gets too cold, she won’t be able to digest her food and she’ll starve to death.”
“Well, I guess it is best to leave animals in their own habitats even if they are cute.”
After taking pictures of the sloth the group hiked on through the trees. Lea noticed as they walked, it seemed to be getting lighter. She looked up ahead and could see light glittering through the trees.
“What’s that sparkling through the trees?” she asked.
A few more steps gave her an answer, it was the ocean.
After hiking down a sand dune, she came to a little shore with three kayaks moored there.
“Hi, Lea. I’m Suki and this is Chloe. We are going to teach you how to use your ocean kayak since only your parents got to do it the last time you were in Brazil.”
“Yeah,” Lea grumbled, “I was too young, but I guess in Jess’s imagination anyone can do it at any age.”
“That’s Jess for you! She’s going to kayak with you, but she said she’ll be a little late. The first thing to do in order to kayak safely is to put on your life vest.”
Lea suddenly gasped because as she put her life vest around her shoulders she realized she wasn’t in her dress anymore. She was wearing a bathing skirt and rash guard and she hadn’t even noticed. I guess it pays to be in someone’s imagination. I don’t even have to worry about changing clothes, she thought.
Lea grabbed her paddle and was about to step in when Suki stopped her.
“Wait! You can’t forget your snorkel gear!” she cried handing her a large pink mesh bag full to bursting, “This will fit at the end of your boat. Jess will take you to a great snorkel pool.”
With Suki’s careful instruction, Lea was able to paddle in the direction she wanted without going in circles or worse, tipping over.
They paddled for a long time and when Lea’s arms felt like they might fall off, Chloe asked to stop and eat some of the lunch she had packed in the cooler. It was so nice to sip ice cold soda and eat a fresh orange.
“Huh!” Chloe said, “look what just came out of a pocket in the cooler, the Underwater Guide for Sea Snoops! Are you a sea snoop, Lea?”
“For a while I wasn’t, I was too scared, but some friends of mine helped me overcome that fear and now I love being a sea snoop!”
Chloe handed her the book where she put it on her lap to read.
Lea tried to read the book while she paddled and when she looked up, Chloe and Suki were gone and there was a different girl in the kayak, Jess had finally arrived.
“Jess! How’d you get here?”
“Howdy, Lea, don’t you remember? I can do anything in my imagination.”
“Oh right. This feels so real that sometimes I forget that it’s your imagination.”
“Holy crow! What’s that?” Lea just saw a dark shadow suddenly creep close to her kayak.
“It’s a sea turtle!”
“I wonder if it’s a leather back sea turtle. Did you know that they can travel more than 10,000 miles every year?” asked Jess, “and green sea turtles can stay under water for up to 5 hours if they need to.”
“So many of them are endangered.”
“I know. Hey look, he’s following us!”
“Maybe he’d like to join us in the tide pool where we’re going to go snorkeling. We’re almost there,” said Jess.
As they paddled past a cliff wall, Lea discovered herself in a beautiful partly enclosed pool where the water was still and calm.
“Are you ready?” asked Jess, “No you’re not. We need bathing suits.”
“There, that’s better. Our snorkel gear should be in that bag.”
“How come you can’t just poof this onto my head?” asked Lea as she struggled to adjust her goggles.
“I can’t feel how it’s going to fit you. Besides, I like putting this stuff on while trying not to tip my boat over. It’s a fun challenge.”
“Look!” Lea cried excitedly as she dug deeper in the pink bag, “it’s my underwater camera!”
“Great find! I think we’re all set,” said Jess, “let’s jump: 1, 2, 3..”
They jumped off their kayaks into the water where Lea started snapping pictures.
She had fun taking pictures of all the coral and fish but soon she and Jess were having fun taking pictures of each other.
Jess waved Lea over to the other side of the pool and Lea gasped because the same turtle that had swam with their kayaks was swimming nose to nose with them!
Lea snapped picture after picture.
Finally Jess pointed up and they came up out of the water.
“That was amazing!” Lea exclaimed, “I can’t believe we got so close to a real sea turtle!”
“You mean, a real one in my imagination,” laughed Jess.
“Oh, yeah! I totally forgot again. Hey, will these pictures show up even though it’s in your imagination?”
“I don’t know. You’ll have to wait and see. Come swim with me to the shore, there’s some people I want you to meet and some partying to be had.”
Jess and Lea began swimming towards the shore. Lea could see a small group of dolls playing in the sand.
Henriette was busy building a sand castle.
Her best friend, Fanny, was playing with her own plastic sea turtle.
Kanani and Sonali were enjoying some refreshments on the patio.
“Hi guys!” called Jess, “is the party ready?”
“Yep!” said Sonali taking a sip of her coconut water, “just head on upstairs.”
Lea suddenly found herself turning a corner, entering a building, and walking upstairs where she could hear lots of music and conversations going on.
When she walked through the door she found she was wearing a different beach outfit and all of the GOTYs she had first met were there, pushing her into a chair and handing her cupcakes and drinks.
She was enjoying herself immensely when two new girls she had never seen before ran up to her.
“Hi Lea, I’m Alexis, but you can just call me Alex. This is my best friend, Tatiana and we’ve both been to Brazil, just like you!”
“I can see that from your shirt! They only sell that in Brazil. You remind me of my dad and all of his crazy Brazil outfits. But I loved them anyway.”
“We have some really exciting news for you. You know the summer Olympics are going to be held in Rio?”
“Well, all three of us are going to go and be reporters and news hosts for the whole duration of the Olympics! Isn’t that awesome?”
“Yes!” cried Lea, “Wow. This has been the best welcome home surprise I’ve ever had! I’m so happy to live here with such great friends.”
“We’re happy you’re here too, Lea!”
The reason I called this post January Jungle is because I did get Lea in January but Lea had to wait while Ruthie’s story was told so it wasn’t until now that I got to play with her and change her into clothes. If I had been a good girl and just looked at AG’s photos of Lea I know I’d never have gotten her. But seeing wonderful pics of her especially wearing different clothes, from other bloggers made me decide to get her. I tried to hold off on her until Melody was leaked and then I would decide between the two but when she went on sale, I knew that would be my perfect birthday gift for this year.
So now that I have her, how do I like her? She really is gorgeous. I love the layering effect of her hair (normally I don’t like dolls with layered hair because it really limits styling). It also changes color depending on the light. Her eyes are very bright. Cecile has the brightest hazel eyes out of my dolls, but Lea even outshines her. I don’t have any problem with her head turning and I like the tan skin. At least it’s something different from my other AGs. I’m very happy I got her and I’m pleased with the kayak she came with too (although it is SO not worth the $85 price tag).
Here’s what I’m disappointed with in Lea:
1. Her books are not my favorite AG books at all. I didn’t hate them, but there are many things that annoyed me. Lea has a bad attitude about a lot of things especially in the first book and after a while it gets really annoying. I didn’t blame her brother Zac for treating her like a baby because she acted like one.
At the end of the first book she gives up a very precious compass given to her by her grandmother before she died by throwing it into the ocean! Really Lea? Why would you pollute the ocean like that?
My Lea doll, did not do such a stupid thing, and will cherish her compass for many years to come.
Book 2 is much better, so if you can get yourself through Book 1, at least it won’t be too much of a waste. I LOVE Lisa Yees descriptions. She did the same thing to me with Kanani; After reading Kanani, I REALLY wanted to go to Hawaii and see everything Kanani was showing Rachel (and amazingly, that very summer I did get to go!). Now, I REALLY want to go to Brazil and see everything Zac shows Lea (that’s probably not going to happen).
2. AG’s choice for Lea’s accessories. I thought AG was brilliant with Grace. Every accessory, large and small that AG made for Grace fit perfectly with her books. With Lea, not so much. I have not read book 3 of Lea’s yet, but so far there is NO mention of a fruit stand, and only her parents get to go ocean kayaking because Lea is too young (Lea ends up sulking on the beach). So why does Lea get her very own ocean kayak? I don’t have a problem with the kayak itself, in fact I’m really enjoying playing with it, but I really like it when AG makes items that go with the stories, it shows they care about the books which are supposed to be at the heart of AG. We’ll see if she gets anything more in the spring. I’ll try to update this post again once I’ve read book 3.
Were you wondering who in the word Henriette’s best friend was? She is a Eurogirl doll. The company called the Doll Factory does not make them anymore but a few outfits are still available at a very discounted price. The toy box philosopher wrote a very interesting review of these dolls and I agree with her, that you either love these dolls and think their faces are adorable, or you hate them. I fell in love and got one really cheap on ebay but when I showed her to my sister, she didn’t like her at all and thought Fanny was “trollish and creepy”. Huh, I can’t see that at all. Henriette is thrilled to finally have a friend her age.
Do you have an opinion on Lea? I’d love to hear it. More posts coming soon!