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Kaya: An American Girl : 1764 / Box Set Paperback – Box set, September 1, 2002
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About the Author
Janet Shawis the author of the Kaya and Kirsten books in The American Girls Collection. She lives in Asheville? North Carolina. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Here is what we liked:
1) Learning about Indian culture and believes.
2) Watching Kaya grow as a person from a selfish girl to responsible and brave young woman.
3) The dog and puppy stories are great, any kid who loves animals will enjoy that particular book.
4) Kidnapping of Kaya and her sister might give you an oportunity to discuss "stranger danger" and how to fight the kidnapper.
5) Exposure to ideas that you might not introduce your kids to (superstitions, sacrefices to skin people, human spirit in animal body etc).
6) Kaya's blind sister doesn't dwell on her handicap, she is a valued member of community and hard working.
7) Most little girls like horses, so they will enjoy the bond that Kaya has with her special horse.
8) Kaya has a strong family structure and supporting community.
9) Kaya is a hard worker and takes pride in being of help to her community.
1)There is a scene in the first book where "switch woman" whips all the kids for Kaya's mistake. This can be disturbing to children, raised in the culture that frowns on corporal punishment.
2)Poorly developed "namesake" character and relationship to Kaya and subsequent Kaya's moping around "in mourning".
3)Somewhat confusing "visions" that Kaya has (wolf spirit shows her the way across the snowy mountain when she's lost).
4) There is a lot of mysticism in these books. If your family is not used to talking about "spirituality" you might have to be ready to explain why people believe in things that are not real. But that might be a positive too, if it provokes a good "teachable moment" conversation.
Overall it's an important series that should be read. We would have enjoyed it more without the "namesake" storyline.
The characters and the setting vividly draw you into the 1764 world of the Nez Perce. All of the stories are fast paced with interesting and original plots and characters. Because of the low predictability of the plot and the unfamiliarity of the setting, I would highly recommend these books for readers over age 8, and not younger. The first few books are particularly difficult to read. As an adult reader, I periodically had to reread a sentence or two to pick up on why or how something a few sentences later had occured. I found that Books 3-6 did get easier to read then the the first two books were, but this is still not a series for young children.
What I liked the most about the Kaya series was watching the development of her character. She makes poor choices in the first book because she does what is right for herself instead of looking after others. As the series progresses, you see Kaya learn from her mistakes and develop her own character from one who is immature to one who possesses many admirable qualities. She deals with many losses and changes with courage and by the last book, she is greatly rewarded for it. She learns to be more patient, to listen to the wisdom of her elders, and to make better choices for herself that include looking after others. These are all important messages for today's youth that I have not seen often in children's books. Kaya is a likable character in an interesting world and it is a pleasure to see her grow into her potential.
This is one of the two or three best American Girl series. The stories couldn't be more gripping and believable; and Kaya couldn't be more delightful. The stories also do a wonderful job of teaching about the Nez Perce.
Now, placing my order, I'm stunned to discover that your two featured reviews are critical of these books. Very idiosyncratic reactions. Go to the children's section of any bookstore and ask the staff what their customers think. Girls love these stories.
Also, you might include in your "If you liked this book . . ." listings Kathleen Ernst's "Trouble at Fort LaPointe."
Fie on the reviewers who panned Kaya. They're mistaken.
Most recent customer reviews
The story embeds aspects of the Nez Perce customs and language, giving authenticity to...Read more