Girl of the Year 2003: Kailey

Author: Amy Goldstman Koss
Illustrators: Philip Howe


Kailey and her best friend Tess are excited to see a sign advertising a new beach resort/mall at the favorite surf spot. They'll be able to stay at the beach all day with food vendors and other amenities around. But Kailey's dad is upset by the sign. A couple days later, Kailey finds out why: the resort construction will require the shoreline to be drastically altered, destroying the habitats of all the animals that live there, including Kailey's favorites, the ones in the tide pools. Tess isn't so sure that's bad. She just broke her leg slipping on the rocks and never cared much about the tide pools anyway, and surely the animals can find new homes--plus the new place will have a movie theater and shopping. But Kailey still wants to preserve the beach, even after the new place offers to commission 88 paintings and two murals from her dad. The animals in the tide pool are worth it.

Kailey comes up with the idea to have an art show where locals can display what they love most about the beach. Her parents are on board right away, but Tess still thinks the beach isn't worth saving--she's really down because of having her summer ruined. Kailey continues planning without her best friend, encouraged by her parents' telling her a lot of people in town don't support the new resort. It's tough going to get people to sketch, but Kailey does find out that the son-in-law of a waitress her family knows is the main person behind the resort, and that he loves artwork--he's also the person who wants to commission her father. When she gets enough artwork, he's the one to show it to. With her dad's help, Kailey is able to start really getting drawings, by offering things like the stickers that polling places when people vote. Kailey suggests to Tess that she could man a booth at the beach, where people would draw. Having something to look forward to is just was Tess needs to lift her spirits and she even adds her own idea after her sister misunderstands what Kailey is doing: people can make drawings (sketches) to enter a drawing (raffle) to win a prize package consisting of things like a painting from Kailey's dad and a tour of the tide pools and a surfing lesson and lemon squares from Tess's mom. 

Soon the drawings are pouring in, from the booth and from local business who have supplies out for customers to draw with, while they do things like wait for their oil to get changed or for their hair appointments. However, a man comes to their booth to deliver some bad news: he says it's all for naught because he has it on good authority that the marina is a done deal. The marina. It's not just a large hotel with retail shops, the entire area will be changed. No more swimming or surfing or snorkeling or even wading; lots of noise and pollution. When Kailey realizes the huge things she's up against, she's ready to throw in the towel. But Tess, of all people, says they can't give up. They've already collected so many drawings, and they have to at least show them to someone. 

So Kailey and Tess accompany Kailey's dad to his art meeting with Mr. Drake, the man behind it all. They bring the artwork they've collected to show him. Upon meeting Mr. Drake, they're surprised to find that he's an amiable man who obviously cares about his family. Although he doesn't seem open to the idea at first, he later comes down to the restaurant where his mother-in-law works. There he explains to Kailey that he wants a beautiful place for his young children, and thought a pristine, OSHA-approved marina would provide that. Now he sees that there already is natural beauty in the tide pools, and agrees to work with the construction crews to still make the resort, but set back from the beach so that the shoreline will be preserved--and he'll scrap plans for the marina. He even offers a free night's stay as the raffle prize, and a free weekend to Kailey's family and Tess's.

Real Girls, Real Stories

Talia Hancock, who lives in Southern California, won a Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History for her work helping protect tide pools at Doheny Beach.


Because Lindsey Bergman was available for about a year and a half, there was no Girl of the Year for 2002.

There's a fan theory which posits that Kailey is Julie Albright's daughter, Julie having taken her husband's name upon marriage. The fans say that a marine microbiologist (Kailey's dad is an artist) who's passionate about the environment and lives in California sounds like someone Julie might have grown up to be. Her first name isn't given in the book, but the drawing of her shows brown hair instead of blonde...although I had blonde hair when I was younger and it naturally darkened to brown, and people do dye their hair.

Kailey's dad is fond of saying "quote [something he's heard or read] unquote."

Tess, if crutches are hurting your armpits, you're using them wrong. They're supposed to be a couple inches below your armpits.

While I appreciate that this book is intended to show the importance of caring for the environment and how even kids can stand up for causes and make a difference, I have a hard time believing that huge resort/marina would be allowed to be built in California in 2003 without a lot more publicity about the environmental impact.

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