Friday, September 7, 2012

Children's Book Review: Kayak Girl by Monica Devine

 Title: Kayak Girl

Author: Monica Devine
Illustrator: Mindy Dwyer

Publisher: University of Alaska Press

Date: September 15, 2012

About The Author
Monica Devine is the author of five children's books and a former nominee of the celebrated Golden Kite Award for her book, The Iditarod: The Greatest Win Ever (Cover-To-Cover Books).

Sorrow and Healing
Jana, a young Eskimo girl, is too tired to do the things that she did in the past. Since her mother died, Jana spends most of her time in her room looking out the cabin window.

One day, her grandfather comes from a village far up the river for a visit. He brings Jana a set of carving tools but she is not interested in carving. She watches while her grandfather carves a girl sitting in a boat from a piece of wood. He calls the girl "Kayak Girl" and tells Jana to take the girl down to the river and put her in the water. Jana doesn't want to walk to the river so Kayak Girl sits in a dusty corner and is forgotten.

When Jana's grandfather is ready to go home, he takes the carving and promises to put Kayak Girl in the river near his village. He asks Jana to walk down to the river each day and watch for Kayak Girl to return to her.

Over the next weeks and months, Jana walks down to the river each day and patiently waits for Kayak Girl. She deals with her feelings of fear, loneliness and grief as she stands by the river waiting for Kayak Girl to find her way home.

Eventually,  Kayak Girl finds her way back to Jana and she thanks the small wood carving for bringing back her spirit. She puts Kayak Girl back in the river and promises that she will not forget her.

Jana realizes that her mother still loves her and her spirit will always be with her.

My Thoughts
This is a beautiful children's story that deals with a very sensitive subject. Jana is dealing with the loss of her mother and can't work through her grief. She doesn't have the desire to leave her room or do any of the things she has done in the past. She appears to be depressed and has lost her desire to live a happy, productive life.

Jana learns to accept her mother's death by caring about the Kayak Girl and recalling happy memories of her mother. She learns that her mother's spirit is with her and she doesn't need to be sad.

The color illustrations are wonderful and do a very nice job spotlighting the Alaskan landscape. This book provides an outstanding example of the Alaskan culture and traditions. The story deals with feelings in a way that children will understand. I highly recommend this book for children of all ages.

My Rating: 5 Stars Out Of 5

FYI ~ I received a complimentary digital copy of this book to read and review from the publisher.

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