Kaya Rides to the Rescue (American Girl)

Random. (Step into Reading). May 2022. 32p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780593483299; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780593483282.
Gr 2-4–Kaya, of American Girl fame, returns in this Level 3 reader. A member of the Nez Percé tribe, Kaya is tasked with minding her brothers. But when challenged to a horse race, she asks her best friend, who is blind, to watch them. Her horse, who hasn’t been trained to race, spooks and loses trust in Kaya. More trouble ensues when her auntie discovers Kaya’s bad decisions. Upset over her mistakes, Kaya seeks counsel from her grandmother and learns that she must work to regain the trust of her family, friends, and her beloved horse. This early reader efficiently sets up the narrative by establishing characters and setting. The plot is well-paced with plenty of action, and sentence length and word choice are designed specifically to help build confidence in burgeoning readers. It may be difficult for readers to keep track of each of the 10 characters. Both text and illustrations accurately reflect the Nez Percé tribe, from hair and clothing to accommodations and nomadic lifestyle. Kudos to illustrator Gillette for including Appaloosa horses, which were bred by the Nez Percé.
VERDICT Well executed, but unlikely to be most readers’ first choice. Purchase where American Girl stories are popular.

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