ea. vol: reprods. (American Girls Collection Series). CIP. Pleasant Company. Aug. 1986. PSm $12.95; pap. $4.95. Gr 3-5 Three nine-year-old girls are the focus of these introductory volumes. All three stories are bland and superficial, and the girls seem more like paper dolls than characters. Each slim book opens with a two-page portrait gallery of the girl's family and friends and concludes with a six-page ``Looking Back'' section that provides historical background for the story's events. Samantha is a privileged orphan who lives with her wealthy grandmother in 1904. She meets Nellie, a sickly child, and the two devise a way to learn why Jesse, a black seamstress, has suddenly left her grandmother's employment. Meet Kirsten 's title character is a Swedish immigrant whose story begins on board ship in 1854 as she and her family journey to Minnesota to join relatives. Molly's doctor father is with the army in England in 1944, and her mother is working for the Red Cross. Molly battles the housekeeper over a plate of mashed turnips, agonizes over Halloween costumes with two friends, and plots revenge on brother Rich when he ruins the girls' costumes and treats. Kirsten's bereavement, Samantha's ernest plea to Grandmary to help Nellie's poor family, and the speech that Molly's mother makes on the necessity of getting along with your family in a world at war are just words on a page. The color illustrations vary from full page with caption to half page to margin decoration and are as lifeless as the text, accurately showing wooden characters posing for portraits. There are many better books available that treat growing up on the frontier, at the turn-of-the-century, and during World War IIWilder's ``Little House'' series (Harper), Brink's Caddie Woodlawn (Macmillan, 1970) , Ruth Sawyer's Roller Skates (Dell, 1969) , Wolitzer's Introducing Shirley Braverman (Farrar, 1975) among them. Stick with them. Elaine Fort Weischedel, Turner Free Library, Randolph, Mass.