Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: Kaya Story Collection (American Girl: Kaya Books 1-6) by Janet Shaw


Kaya Story Collection
Title: Kaya Story Collection
Author: Janet Shaw
Publisher:  American Girl Publishing
Release Dates: January 1, 2010
Pages: 404, Hardcover
Lexile Measure: 650-840
Age Range: 8+
Goodreads Rating: 3.85 stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars


Summary from Goodreads: The perfect way to learn about Kaya is with this complete set of her six books in one hardcover. The set includes: Meet Kaya, Kaya's Escape, Kaya's Hero, Kaya and the Lone Dog, Kaya Shows the Way, and Changes for Kaya.

Meet Kaya: Kaya dreams of racing her beautiful mare Steps High. Her father warns her that the horse isn't ready, but when a pesky boy insults Steps High, Kaya accepts his challenge to race. As they ride, Kaya loses sight of her little brothers. Her carelessness earns her a nickname that her friends won't let her forget.

OUR TAKE

Okay, my daughter does not own an American Girl doll.  I know, I'm the meanest mom in the world, right?  She actually considered using her own money to purchase one at one point a couple of years back, but we told her that she would first need to show us that she would actually play with and take care of a $25 Target doll for a few months.  She's a very practical girl and by the end of that few months even she agreed that it just wasn't worth the money to buy an American Girl - she just didn't play with dolls very often!  There was a little part of me that was afraid to get D into the American Girl books because I thought she might then decide that she once again wanted a doll.  But, while we were studying Daniel Boone and his interactions with the Native Americans for our homeschooling, I just couldn't resist picking up this Kaya book from the library to see if she would enjoy "learning" about Native Americans via these stories (and I only put learning in quotes because I was hoping she would love them and it wouldn't feel like learning).  Well, it worked.

These stories follow Kaya, a young Native American girl from a Nez Perce tribe.  In the first book, Kaya boasts about her new horse and leaves her little brothers (who she was supposed to be watching) in order to try and race some boys in the tribe.   Because of her misbehavior, she earns the nickname "Magpie" meaning that she put her own wants and needs before others.  This is a theme throughout all six of the books as Kaya tries to live down her nickname and prove to herself and others that she truly does put others before herself.  I love that it is a learning experience and that she continues to make mistakes, but gets better and better at it as the series goes on.  There are also good lessons in the books about how a person is not the sum of their mistakes and about how striving and learning are all part of growing up.

Throughout the books, Kaya has many adventures.  She is kidnapped by a neighboring tribe and must show courage and strength to escape, she befriends a lone dog and learns to love and let go, and she escapes a flash fire with her horse and its foal.

One thing that I loved about the books are how there were small pictures scattered throughout illustrating words that most likely wouldn't be familiar to young readers.  For instance, in the first few pages of the book, Kaya's brothers hide behind a travois.  Right next to the text, there is a small picture of a travois (which is basically two poles with a frame attached to a horse so that they could transport their supplies).  I loved these little illustrations strewn throughout the book - they were such a great learning tool!  

Overall, I thought these books were fun and educational.  The first book did start out a bit slowly for my 9-year-old daughter.  I told her she did not have to read the full series and that I just wanted her to at least complete the first book to give it a chance.  Well, by the time she finished the first book, she was too curious to find out what happened and she ended up happily reading them all and asking to read other books in the Kaya series.  So, I call that success!  In fact, we picked up another American Girl story collection at a recent Scholastic warehouse sale  (Kit).  I'm definitely going to keep my eyes peeled for more of these story collection books!  4/5 stars

13 comments:

  1. Hi Nicole-glad your daughter enjoyed the series.
    I'm the author/illustrator of the zodiacts book series. Is it possible for me to send you a copy of my latest for review. I don't see a policy page here on the site.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure - I'd be happy to check it out. I'll contact you on your site and give you my details.

      Delete
  2. Stopping by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Thank you for sharing your informative book review. I have a 9 year old daughter and she loves the American Girl books. We have not read the Kaya series yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by! I'm trying to swing by all the blogs on the hop as well!

      Delete
  3. Nicole, I had much the same reaction when my daughter was 9. She fell in love with the dolls and the books, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well written and fun the books were. The AG magazine is wonderful, too--no ads and very positive messages for young girls. We haven't read the Kaya books, but we've read several others. Kit is our favorite. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My daughter is actually just finishing up the Kit Story Collection now. She LOVES it! I haven't read it yet, but she has told me so much about it and is obviously very interested in The Great Depression - she's definitely connecting with the stories!

      Delete
  4. My kids don't have American Girl dolls either. This book looks pretty good, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The books are great! My daughter just finished the Kit one and she loved it too!

      Delete
  5. Thanks for a really great review. I am from down under so we don't have this series in our local library, but I love the thought of her working past her nickname and not allowing it to define her. Thanks so much for joining us on the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Cheers Julie Grasso

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course - I guess American Girl wouldn't be too popular in Australia!! :-)

      Delete
  6. Wow, so much potential for learning about the First Nations culture and life lessons all wrapped up in exciting stories. I would say waaaaay better than having the doll. We've managed to avoid the doll - thankfully it just never came up with my daughter. We're dealing with demands for an ipod touch at the moment. I'm prepared to be the mean Mom! lol

    Thanks for joining us in the Kid Lit Blog Hop! I'm a new follower of both your blogs via email and some other ways too! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My kids actually do have Ipod touches, but they saved up their own money to buy them. I just knew that my daughter wasn't even really going to play with her doll, so I was really encouraging her to think hard about it before she spent all her money on one. Luckily, she's a practical girl (can't always say the same for my son)!

      Delete
    2. It's always something isn't it? A few months ago my daughter wanted an electric scooter of all things. Luckily her friend's scooter pooped out and demonstrated how THAT would have been a waste of money. My daughter gets a lot of birthday and Christmas money from both grandparents as well as uncles and aunts so she actually can easily pay for this stuff herself (and does!) sigh...I don't remember having quite this much money to spend at her age. I was happy to buy the odd handful of Mojo's for 2 cents a piece (remember those? they were like starbursts!) lol

      Delete