We first meet Prudence Moody when she and Ellowyne are in high school at Briermier Academy, although the canon implies that they’ve been friends for a while. Prudence is Ellowyne’s confidant, partner in crime, shopping buddy, and best friend. In many ways, the canonical Prudence is Ellowyne’s opposite. While Ellowyne suffers through Dark Days, Prudence sets her sights on Bright Nights, Big City. While Ellowyne is Falling to Pieces, Prudence is Picking Up the Pieces. Twice! And while Ellowyne Wallows in White, Prudence says, “C’est La Vie!”

Prudence is exuberant, always ready for an adventure. However, she needs to cajole Ellowyne into doing things that might lie out of her comfort zone. One time, Pru takes Ellowyne shopping and Ellowyne is appalled by the colorful, bright, cheerful outfit Prudence picked out for her. (Then again, the first Prudence was dressed in a funky, offbeat outfit, so Ellowyne should’ve known what to expect!) Pru takes Zumba classes and hopes that someday Ellowyne will join her but so far, she hasn’t.

Prudence’s most unique characteristic is her psychic abilities. She was born on Halloween in the middle of a séance. The first Prudence doll in the Ellowyne Wilde line was ESPecially Prudence, an allusion to her extrasensory gifts. One of the last Prudence dolls is Possibly Clairvoyant, which is an homage to that first doll’s paranormal prowess. Possibly Clairvoyant even has dark pink streaks in her hair.  


It’s easy to overlook Prudence because she is the Midge, the sidekick, the one who just isn’t as pretty, wise, popular, or important as the main character. I build on the canon—particularly her dual nature–and develop it in perhaps unexpected directions.

First off, I envision Prudence as an athlete. She has so much energy that it’s easy to see her participate in sports. In, we learn that Prudence takes Zumba, circuit training, and hot yoga classes. From that story, as well as this one, Prudence is on several sports teams including women’s hockey, softball, and rugby, and sometimes she fills in for missing roller derby players. Also, she was the first girl on her high school wrestling team. Pru is the captain of her rugby team, the She-Devils. She brags that she laughs at pain, but when she suffers a bad injury in, she cries. Her friends and teammates are worried about her, but she does well with surgery and physical therapy and has a special someone help her with recovery. Speaking of that particular individual, sometimes he takes her to college or professional games. Prudence loves hockey and occasionally she and the mystery man call each other during televised games if they couldn’t get together to watch them in person. (Okay, the unnamed gentleman is Penn, who sometimes is romantically involved with her, other times with someone else.)

Prudence is said to have psychic abilities but instead, she is an empath. She is keenly attuned to the emotions of others and readily discerns any hints of distress like facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, or choice of words. In, Pru has a feeling that there was something amiss with Ellowyne and Rufus, only to find out that they weren’t breaking up but that their relationship was being challenged because his parents died. But before we learn Amber’s secret, Pru gets a horrible headache because Amber is an emotional vampire who sucks all the energy out of empaths who feel overwhelmed with negativity. Of course, when Amber reforms, she no longer reeks of negativity and morphs into a real friend to everyone in their social circle. And Prudence becomes headache-free.

Pru doesn’t belong to any organized religion, but she engages in several spiritual practices. She meditates, does Tai Chi, and takes a variety of yoga classes. Sometimes she adds aromatherapy to her meditation session and lights incense or candles. She owns several sets of singing bowls and Tibetan finger cymbals, known as Tingsha bells. Prudence makes jewelry of semiprecious stones that purport to promote healing in the body, unblock chakras, and protect from any kind of spiritual malevolence. 

Career-wise, Prudence is in exactly the right place. Her involvement with athletics gives her an understanding of the human body, and she is accepted into a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Satisfying her spiritual sensibilities, she can incorporate her interest in holistic therapy into her bachelor’s degree or her DPT program at San Francisco State University.

Canonically, Pru was born on Halloween, but with her dual nature, she is a Gemini, the sign of the twins. It might seem like she flits from one interest to another, particularly in her athletic and spiritual pursuits, but that’s the nature of an air sign. (Full disclosure: I am a Gemini but I don’t believe in astrology. Doesn’t that sound like something Prudence might say?)

Don’t overlook Prudence. Sometimes the sidekick is more fun than the main character!



Amber Stanhope enters Ellowyne’s life when she is enrolled in Briermier Academy, the school Ellowyne, Prudence, and Rufus attend. Ellowyne has to get along with Amber because Mr. Stanhope is Mr. Wilde’s boss. The problem is that Amber doesn’t have to be nice to Ellowyne. She is competitive, self-centered, and vain. She seems obsessed with proving herself to be better than Ellowyne. In other words, Amber is Ellowyne’s frenemy. As per poem cards and Ellowyne’s journal, Amber is often dismissive of Ellowyne’s ennui and thinks she is better than Ellowyne—and everyone else.

Moreover, because she doesn’t seem to have other friends, Amber gloms onto Ellowyne’s friend group. There isn’t any evidence to show that Amber and Prudence have much to do with each other. However, Ellowyne’s journal and therapy notes indicate that Rufus bears the brunt of Amber’s bad behavior. She often flirts with him—always in front of Ellowyne—and once invites him to join her at the wharf, most likely to make out. And he goes with her! Really dumb move, dude! Over time, Amber’s aggressive, inappropriate behavior toward Rufus escalates, and she gets into a pattern of kissing him, then slapping his face for kissing her! And when Penn joins the squad, Amber kissed and slapped him, mistaking him for Rufus. Her outrageous behavior seems to peak when she crashed Ellowyne’s Halloween party. Not only did she kiss and smack Penn, she also showed up in a skanky Dorothy from Oz outfit. On her way out the door, she stepped into a pumpkin outside the Wilde’s front door and, predictively, everyone laughed at her. The bottom line is: canonical Amber was a hot mess.


First of all, I have to admit that I love Amber. In the canon, she’s so outrageous that she’s laughable. My vision of Amber is deeply rooted in her official story, but she grows and changes. In my story, Amber’s Secret, Penn gets upset when Amber gooses him in a coffee shop, and asks Rufus, Prudence, Lizette, and Ellowyne what makes her act so inappropriately. Warning: the rest of this is a spoiler, so you might want to skip the rest of my Amber headcanon if you haven’t read Amber’s Secret already. 

Amber was a child pageant queen, like on Toddlers and Tiaras. Because her parents were extremely wealthy and she was their only child, they indulged her. From the time she was a toddler, 15 months old, they bought custom-made outfits for her to wear. She never wore the same glitzy, glamourous dress twice. For her outfit of choice, she would often be dressed like iconic sex symbols: Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Jayne Mansfield, Brigitte Bardot. She channeled Madonna, Cher and Lady Gaga in her infamous meat dress. Her most controversial ensembles were as Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8, Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge, and Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which incurred the wrath of other pageant parents and warnings from pageant directors. The Stanhopes weren’t terribly popular with the pageant crowd. One time, Mr. Stanhope rented a zebra foal from a zoo to appear with Amber in a “My Favorite Pet” competition. He also purchased a small private plane emblazoned Amber’s name and picture onto the sides. Her parents spared no expense making their little girl happy and successful, and even had a separate room for her sashes, crowns, and several child mannequins dressed in her most beloved dresses. 

Although Amber enjoyed pageants, she developed some unfortunate attitudes and behaviors. She was successful, in part because her parents spent so much money ensuring she would win. Amber was beautiful and quickly learned she could manipulate others because of her appearance. She knew how to flirt with judges and entice them into scoring her highly. Often, she charmed the audience, even though her parents weren’t well-liked on the pageant circuit.

After Ellowyne discovers her secret, Amber realizes that she needs to change her behavior. She learns to laugh at herself, especially at her life as a pageant child,  and often invites her friends to her crown room so they can sip wine, try on crowns, and giggle. She no longer views female friends as competition and takes a genuine interest in her friends’ activities. She used to greet the women as “Bitches!” but later calls them “Heifers,” a nod to the way the patrons of Cheers greeted Norm. The women moo in response to Amber’s greeting. Yes, it’s silly, but it shows the way Amber’s relationship with them changes from hostility to harmony. She becomes fast friends with Lizette, and they like to speak French to each other. Amber isn’t quite as close with Prudence but that will change. Amber will also become fast friends with Neema. What about her relationship with Ellowyne? They discover they have many things in common and develop an especially warm camaraderie. Here’s the most recent story about friendship, the ladies and the gentlemen:

Additionally, she apologizes profusely to Rufus and Penn for her inappropriate behavior. Surprisingly, she and Rufus become friends. They discover they enjoy arguing with each other, and Rufus eventually encourages her to look into law school. She is accepted into Stanford but isn’t quite sure what kind of law interests her the most.But what is even more unexpected is that Amber develops a relationship with Penn. Sometimes they’re casually dating, but sometimes they’re friends with benefits. Will they get together? Will she–or he–meet someone else? Time will tell.

Amber is becoming a wonderful friend and successful university/law student. However, she can still be a little spoiled and entitled, and she’s still as lazy as a house cat. Amber is growing as a person but she is still a work in progress.



Lizette Dionne reluctantly moves from NOLA to San Francisco for her parent’s political careers. The first person she meets is Rufus, whom she finds kind and helpful. He plans to introduce her to Ellowyne, Prudence, and even Amber in an effort to widen her social circle. However, Ellowyne meets her at Dr. Bantam’s office; Lizette’s parents urged her to go to therapy because she’s having trouble adjusting to her new home. Later, she meets Prudence and Amber at Briermier Academy, where they, Rufus, and Ellowyne go to high school. Lizette is impressed with the science curriculum, which tells me she’s smart.

Lizette is shy and doesn’t take many social risks. One of her first poems relates how she is reticent to meet new people. But another doll, Woefully Rich, she divulges how she feels wealthy because of an abundance of good, solid friends. But in a poem for Seriously Dressed, Ellowyne, she talks about seeing Lizette at Dr. Bantam’s office, and the two of them taking a silent walk later that day. A later poem for the doll Lizette’s Bold Move talks about how she’s going to make a move on a boy she likes. However, the object of her affection is never named. 

As per the Wilde Imagination canon, Lizette has two passions: birds and hats. Her love of birds is mentioned in Ellowyne’s journal entries and therapy notes. Lizette’s love of hats is cited in early poem cards but otherwise it’s not probed much deeper. 


One thing about Lizette that is never explicitly put forward is her ethnicity. Lizette was produced in two skin tones: honey, which is light-skinned, and spice, which is darker. The honey-colored Lizette dolls were produced in larger number than the spice-hued ones. Hence the matter of Lizette’s heritage. While we can assume the spice version was most likely Black, we’re less sure about the honey  version. Is she a light-skinned Black woman? Brown? Biracial? Latina? Native American or Eastern Indian? But the most important thing about Lizette’s heritage is that it doesn’t matter.She can be of any ethnic group you want. All interpretations of Lizette’s heritage are valid. For the most part, I see her as Creole with French, West African, Spanish, and Native American ancestry, which is logical considering that, canonically, she is from New Orleans. But other times I see her as biracial or Latina. 

In my headcanon, I build on Lizette’s canon rather than reject it. She likes science and birds, so she aspires to become an avian veterinarian. She is going to study at University of California Davis, which has a highly ranked vet program and is not too far from San Francisco. In her spare time, she is an avid birdwatcher, and she has several pet birds, and sometimes she volunteers at an avian veterinary clinic or a bird rescue. Occasionally, her friends tease her—in a good-natured way—about being a “bird brain.”

How about the hats? She wears hats and looks good in hats but I don’t see them as integral to her character with one notable exception. There is a rich tradition of Black women wearing bright, elaborate hats to church. Some used them as a conduit to God, a way to attract His attention. Others saw the hat as a crown, a tangible symbol of overcoming hardships. Still others wore hats as indicators of personal wealth, especially in the 1920s Harlem Renaissance. Is Lizette a church-going woman whose love of hats is associated to her faith? Is she influenced by her grandmother or another older relative? Or does she just like hats?

Lizette is shy but well-liked by her friends. They accept her as she is and enjoy having her as part of the group. She is especially close to Prudence, but gets along well with everyone. She and Amber have a running joke about the premium coffee, kopi luwak, that Amber loves. Asian palm civets eat coffee cherries and defecate the fermented, partially digested beans; therefore, Lizette refers to the coffee as “weasel poop coffee” even though civets are not weasels. I always thought that Lizette was just being cheeky and wanted to tease Amber. However, perhaps Lizette was right. I just read on Wikipedia that “Weasel coffee” is a loose English translation of Vietnamese name for kopi luwak, cà phê Chồn. Who knew? Lizette and Amber enjoy speaking French, a language which Lizette speaks because of her Creole background and Amber learned back in high school. 

And then there’s the issue of Lizette’s love life. In one of her poem cards, she alludes to the first time she was kissed. Perhaps her difficulty leaving NOLA and moving to San Francisco was due to her leaving behind her first true love. She has a huge crush on Rufus, as evidenced by the way she said he was so kind. Unfortunately—at least for her—Lizette’s feelings are unrequited. In my story, The Lonesome Loser, ( Lizette is thrilled that Ellowyne is interested in Penn because she might get a chance with Rufus. Unfortunately, he is oblivious to her advantages. Once Ellowyne and Rufus officially start dating, she starts seeing other men, including Penn. In Spring Break, she has a torrid but brief relationship with a young man named Keanu. ( In Ennui in the Age of COVID-19 ( Lizette meets a handsome man named Lawrence (who is not a doll but should be) who is as obsessed as she is with birds, and he is planning to attend UC Davis to study avian veterinary. Will he be in her life for the duration of the pandemic? Will they go to vet school together and fulfill their dream of opening a mobile clinic? Please keep reading to find out!



There wasn’t a real story when the first Penn, Just Relax, debuted at the Tonner convention in 2015. The first regular line Penn, Business Day, had a brief origin story. He was involved with the police department as a “big brother” to a troubled adolescent, the pyromaniac Freddy Wilde. Now, the poem that came with Business Day didn’t mention his actual job or volunteer work. Instead,  there was a lot made of Ellowyne gushing that Penn was older than her friends, was so handsome, and that he looked as good in a suit as in jeans. Ellowyne sounds utterly shallow and vapid. That’s not the Ellowyne I love. Penn appeared in one of Ellowyne’s final journal entries, in which she wrote about him stopping by on Halloween, her grandmother suggesting he join the party but insisted he wear a mask. Amber tramped into the house and, mistaking Penn for Rufus, she grabbed him, kissed him, and slapped him for kissing her. 


Since I’m not keen on the canonical stories about Penn, I decided to create my own. And, truth be told, Penn is now one of my favorite characters in the line. I started with the age factor. Ellowyne and her friends are usually college or graduate students in their early 20s. Penn is four years older than they are but he has started college at the same time. The reason for that is…

Penn is a war veteran. After he graduated from high school, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, so he joined the Army and became a medic. He has deployed to Afghanistan three, maybe four times. The doctors, nurses, and his chaplain encouraged him to go to nursing school. Why nursing? I am a registered nurse, no longer working due to health reasons. I have known many remarkable men who were nurses. Most of them became nurses because they had been medics or corpsmen in the military. The strength and integrity of these men I have been privileged to teach, work with, and know inspired me to create a character who epitomizes these traits as an homage to those men. Additionally, Penn embodies the post-9/11 wartime experience. He becomes an adrenaline junkie, a thrill-seeker who feels most alive when surrounded by chaos. Penn’s risk-taking impacts his career in that he works in the ER and eventually wants to become a nurse practitioner on a medivac helicopter. Sometimes he works in Intensive Care and plans to become a nurse anesthetist. Sadly, Penn suffers from PTSD, just like someone I love. My husband is a retired Army National Guard chaplain, and over the course of a 28-year career, has deployed in Operation Desert Storm, a peacekeeping mission to Bosnia, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His PTSD, which resulted from his time in Iraq, has decreased over time, but he still struggles. It grieves me to see a gentle man explode in a rage because of PTSD. Writing about Penn’s experiences helps me understand my husband’s.

Now that we’ve established who Penn is at the core of his identity, let’s look at some of Penn’s other characteristics. He’s an outgoing man—quite charismatic– with the temperament of a Labrador retriever puppy. He is a risk-taker and an adventurer, often to the chagrin of his friends who try desperately to keep up with him. He is athletic. In middle school, he started studying martial arts, and he was on the football, wrestling, and rugby teams in high school. When he was in the Army, he became interested in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting. Penn runs, works out in the student fitness center, and occasionally participates in hot yoga with Prudence. Sometimes Penn chides Rufus for getting “a little doughy in the middle” in an effort to get him to run or lift weights. 

Some of Penn’s relationships are complicated. However, two of his friendships are solid and unproblematic. His most straightforward relationship is with his best friend, Rufus. Penn introduces Rufus to some of the finer things in life, like craft beer, poutine, and hockey games. In turn, Rufus tutors Penn in statistics, a subject that Penn doesn’t understand and loathes. The guys like to prank each other, and each one tries to make the other laugh so hard that the beverage he’s drinking spurts out of his nose. 

Penn’s connection with Ellowyne is also uncomplicated. Naturally, he finds her attractive, but when he realizes that Rufus is hopelessly devoted to her, he decides not to pursue her. He simply is not the kind of man who would poach his best friend’s crush. As a nursing student, Penn made friends with many of his classmates, most of them women. So Penn having a platonic relationship with Ellowyne is conceivable and reasonable. 

But here’s where things get convoluted. Penn is a lady’s man. He loves getting female attention. He is a busy fellow with work and/or school, so he doesn’t have time for a committed relationship. However, he makes time for casual dating and occasional hookups. Often, he dates other nursing students, but he also goes out with Prudence, Lizette, Neema, and Amber. Each woman he dates—or hooks up with—knows that Penn dates other girls but doesn’t know who they are. He has sworn each one to secrecy so they can’t compare notes. And that’s no typo. Penn sometimes dates Amber. After she finally learns that she can’t kiss and slap guys, she and Penn make amends. Sometimes Penn and Amber are friends with benefits. Occasionally he thinks he wants a serious, exclusive commitment but Amber, the most likely candidate, isn’t ready. 

There’s one piece of information that was missing from the official canon. What is Penn’s last name? Is he like Cher, Madonna, Bono, or Prince and simply doesn’t need one? In lieu of a real surname, I’ve chosen some of my own. And those last names are subject to change, depending on the role Penn has played in my stories. Sometimes the surname is just funny like State or a vile pun like Penn N. Teller. Every so often, Penn’s last name is Wilde because he is Ellowyne’s cousin or brother. In one of the stories rattling around in my brain, Penn and Ellowyne are twins!

I wasn’t fond of Penn at first, but now that I have given him a whole new story line, he has quickly become a favorite character. I hope he will be one of yours, too!

Cast of Characters: Neema


There are actually two different origin stories. In the first one, Rufus meets Neema first, and takes Ellowyne to a nice restaurant so she can meet Neema. In this version of events, Neema is an artist, and she and Ellowyne get along well. 

In the second story, Prudence meets Neema at an art class they were taking. Pru thinks Neema and Ellowyne would hit it off and invite them for lunch. Unfortunately, Ellowyne was feeling stressed. She was late to her appointment with Dr. Bantam, which caused her to be tardy getting to lunch. Indeed, she was so anxious that she talked at Neema incessantly, giving her way too much information. She made several faux pas about cherries and berries, to which Neema took as offensive because her family owned the biggest organic cherry and berry growers in the country. The friendship starts off tenuously but as Neema and Ellowyne learn more about each other, their friendship blossoms like the cherry trees on Lake Michigan. 

By the way, did you know that Neema means “Born during good times” in Swahili?


It is so much fun to write about a new character. She pretty much is the personification of the tabula rasa, that is, a blank slate. We only know a few things about Neema and we can let our imaginations go wild(e). I’ve given Neema a surname that should accurately reflect her nationality.

As a result of Sadiku’s financial prowess the Zuberi family was wealthy. They purchased a condo in one of San Francisco’s elite high rises for Neema and a state-of-the-art electric car. 

Neema is the daughter of a retired NFL player, Sadiku Zuberi and his wife, Ayanna. They emigrated to the US from their native Tanzania when Sadiku was recruited to play football at the University of Nebraska. After graduation, he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. Over the years, he played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Detroit Lions. Sadiku was proactive in terms of managing his wealth. and, when he retired from football, he purchased an organic berry and cherry farm near Traverse City, Michigan, which became the largest and most prominent grower in the nation after only a few years. 

Having just graduated from college, Neema wanted to explore some of the places in which she had lived as a child. Her mother suggested San Francisco, where Neema was born. Ayanna remembered how much she and Sadiku loved living there and thought her daughter would appreciate the ethnic and cultural diversity and would also enjoy experiencing life from a different perspective. 

Neema will have many adventures with her new friends. Let’s see what happens as she joins Ellowyne’s social group and gets to know some of the rest of the squad!