Girl of the Year 2011: Good Job, Kanani!

Author: Lisa Yee
Illustrator: Sarah Davis


Rachel's been gone two weeks, and summer is fading fast. Kanani is determined to do something to help monk seals, and when she sees her family's new portable shave ice cart, she gets an idea. With her father's permission, she'll sell shave ice to raise money and awareness, with fifty cents of each shave ice cone going to making posters explaining to tourists why they should leave the monk seals alone if they're resting on the beach. But there's not much time, and what little of summer is left gets taken up by surfing and worrying about Jinx, the family's pet rooster which is lost. Kanani doesn't actually like the sport, but her friend Celina loves it and Kanani promised she'd surf with her this summer. And Celina's spending more and more time on the waves. Kanani's father won't let her operate the cart alone. Kanani is happy and surprised when Pika, a boy who's usually boastful and annoying, starts helping. With his charisma, the pair sell lots of shave ice and also collect extra donations for the monk seals. 

Soon, Kanani is only twelve dollars away from being able to afford the posters (approved by the foundation that protects monk seals). But she hasn't talked to Celina in more than a week, and Celina's been off surfing with another girl who's much better at it than Kanani. Kanani's mother and grandmother encourage her to at least talk with Celina again. Maybe their friendship is growing apart, but she shouldn't give up entirely. Kanani isn't convinced until she finds Jinx. The rooster made its way to her grandmother's yard (her paternal grandmother, not the one Kanani shares with Rachel) and has really taken to her grandmother's chickens and her grandmother. Kanani declares that the rooster has found a new home, and is happy that it brings her grandmother happiness. A bit later, Kanani hears that Celina is in a surfing competition, and goes to watch. Celina wins second in her division, and the girl she's been hanging out with gets first in hers. Kanani ends up talking with the girl, Jo, and finds her very nice. Her father is a photographer, and Celina has told them about Kanani's photography hobby. Jo's father wants to see Kanani's work! He offers to buy one of her pictures for ten dollars. Kanani asks for twelve, the last bit she needs for the monk seals.

After the surfing competition, Kanani and Celina make up. Celina didn't realize how little Kanani liked surfing, and they agree to not pressure each other into things they don't like (Celina didn't like taking up so much of her day selling shave ice). The posters are printed soon after, and Kanani and Celina pass them out around the town. Kanani also sends one to Rachel. 

Real Girls, Real Stories

Francesca L. of Florida used her new birthday camera to take pictures of people in homeless shelters (with permission) and made little albums for the families there, and for the last six years has returned every Mother's Day to take family portraits. Haley T. of Georgia grew her hair out for almost a year and a half to donate it for wigs. Canadian Andrea F. sewed pillowcase for patients at a children's hospital and also did in-person charity work at a South African orphanage, and asked family and friends to donate money to it instead of buying her birthday presents. Lindsey M. made emergency kits with meal supplies for elderly and disabled residents of her Colorado mountain town, and also collects supplies for a crisis pregnancy center and donates money and toys to children in need. Ellen B. and her friends raised money to give the custodian of their North Carolina school his dream vacation: a family trip to San Francisco. Emily L. of Virginia rallied her community to donate more than two hundred pairs of shoes to a program in Ethiopia that provides girls education and exercise.


Dedicated to Roger and Pat. With special thanks to "Jennifer Hirsch for helping bring Kanani's story to life."

In an email, Rachel says that she's happily settling into life with her mother and stepfather, and has gotten a pair of parakeets, Fred and Ginger.

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