My oldest daughter is five years old. She has always been a precocious reader, but I have had difficulty finding things that she wants to read. She loves Elephant and Piggie books, but they are not much of a challenge. She claims to be afraid of Junie B. Jones, and she has shown no interest in Ramona. We do have a nice collection of American Girl books that I have collected in the past couple of years. My daughter and I have also started to collect the dolls, so I thought that it would be a good time to start reading through the books.
On one of our most recent trips to the library, we found an audiobook collection that contained ALL of the Kaya books. This was very exciting because we are missing two of the Kaya books, and while we could have borrowed them from the library, being able to listen to them in the car allows us to multitask.
The first book that we listened to was Kaya and Lone Dog. This is the fourth book in the series. We had already read the first three books, and we were excited to find out what was going to happen to Kaya.
Before Kaya, the American Girl books followed a set formula that included school stories, Christmas stories, and birthday stories. This allowed readers to compare and contrast how various American Girl characters lived their lives, and even though the girls come from vastly different circumstances, similarities could be found.
But Kaya doesn’t celebrate Christmas, and she doesn’t go to a schoolhouse to learn reading and numbers. So, the formula had to be adjusted. The result is a thrilling tale, set across six books about a young Nez Perce girl struggling to find her place in the world.
Kaya and Lone Dog is subtitled “A Friendship Story”. It picks up immediately after the events in Kaya’s Hero. For this reason, I would recommend reading the stories in sequential order to get the full picture of Kaya’s life.
As the story begins, Kaya is still reeling from the tragedy that occurred at the end of the third book. She finds a dog that keeps to itself, something that is very particular. Dogs tend to travel in packs, and so a lone dog is something to be suspicious of. Kaya is determined to befriend this dog. Her grandmother warns her to be careful, because the dog could lash out and attack Kaya without warning.
Kaya discovers that Lone Dog is pregnant, and after the puppies are born, Kaya brings bones to Lone Dog and drops by the dog’s den to visit her. Can Lone Dog be trusted, or will she lash out at Kaya? Will Lone Dog join the tribe’s dog pack?
This is a very nice story. Kaya is a good role model. She is far from perfect; she is still struggling to overcome a nickname that she was given in the first book. The other children call her Magpie because she did something irresponsible, and was as careless as a magpie. Kaya tries to be her best self, and this book shows that Kaya is maturing. Initially, she tries to shoo away the hungry dog, but then she realizes that it was wrong to turn away a hungry animal, and she wonders what her namesake would have done. This is a motivating factor for her to befriend the dog, and it shows that Kaya is responsible, and trying to do the right thing.
I would absolutely recommend Kaya and Lone Dog. In addition to having a very thrilling scene towards the end, this book also has a lot of information about Nez Perce traditions. Nez Perce language is even incorporated into the story. My daughter and I are both learning about Kaya and her world, which is a fun experience for both of us. Again, I would recommend reading the first three books in the Kaya series before reading this one.
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