Girl holding Kira while reading Kira Bailey Down Under book
Girl holding Kira while reading Kira Bailey Down Under book
Inside scoop, Learning 3 minute read

Why Kira matters

By American Girl Feb. 3, 2022

Cuddling cute kittens and researching rare species are THE perfect ways to spend a day, if you ask Kira Bailey™, Girl of the Year™ 2021 . She’s well-known at her local animal shelter and serves as a foster parent for kittens, even though she’s only ten. Kira is thrilled to leave Michigan behind to spend part of her summer helping animals in Australia. There, she and Mom stay with her great-aunts Mamie and Lynette, who run the Bailey family wildlife sanctuary and vet clinic.

Kira’s story isn’t all animal cuddles and cuteness, though. She faces challenges about everything from friendship to dealing with family health scares to taking responsibility for her mistakes. Through her story, Kira provides a powerful role model for girls.

You and your girl can learn more about the making of Girl of the Year Kira Bailey in this video featuring author Erin Teagan, koala rescuers Ali and Izzy Bee, and young climate activist Genesis Butler.

Kira's story helps girls learn about:


Kira’s big dream is to work with animals—especially at her aunts’ animal sanctuary in Australia. While abroad, she learns more about caring for animals and how issues stemming from climate change, like droughts and bushfires, can threaten wildlife. These topics are more relevant today than ever, as girls around the world are recognizing the risk of climate change and taking action. Kira learns that while helping animals can be hard work and even heartbreaking, it’s mostly a ton of fun and incredibly rewarding.

"Even though helping animals wasn’t easy, it was totally worth it."

Kira Down Under

Facing Problems

Just when Kira thinks life at the sanctuary couldn’t get any better, Great Aunt Mamie’s health takes a turn for the worse, and Kira's efforts to rehabilitate Bean, the orphan koala, aren’t going well. Distracted, Kira leaves the door to the wombat cage open, and the baby wombats escape. Suddenly, nothing is going right—and Kira doesn’t know how to fix it. For the first time, the girl who likes to be prepared feels…unprepared.

"'We all make mistakes,' said Alexis. 'Don’t be so hard on yourself. I know you like to be prepared, but sometimes things just happen.'”

Kira Down Under

At first, Kira has a tendency to avoid the things most upsetting to her. She puts off visiting her aunt in the hospital, because her illness is hard to face. When the wombats escape, Kira thinks, "This was all my fault. I wanted to zip myself into my tent until it was over." But Kira learns that avoiding a problem doesn’t make it go away.

Taking Responsibility

Whether it’s helping a baby koala bond with a new mother, apologizing for a mistake, or finding a wayward wombat, taking responsibility for a problem is the only way to make things right. As her Aunt Mamie always says, you can’t let fear of the worst keep you from living your best.

"I was in charge of this little creature and I wasn’t about to let anything happen to him."

Kira Down Under

Explore more of Kira’s story with Kira: Down Under and Kira's Animal Rescue by Erin Teagan. Illustrations by Millie Liu. If your girl wants to learn more about caring for the environment like Kira, check out Love the Earth by Mel Hammond.

©2024 American Girl. American Girl and associated trademarks are owned by American Girl, LLC.

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