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When fear strikes, let the aloha spirit be your guide: Nanea’s story

Nanea in Growing Up with Aloha

In dark times, good
deeds shine brighter

In The Spirit of Aloha, Nanea’s world is turned upside down when Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, officially bringing the U.S. into World War Two. Nanea worries the people she loves will soon be leaving the island. To cope with her sadness, she finds opportunities to perform kokua (“good deeds”) for those in need.

Nanea in Hula for the Home Front

Taking steps
toward healing

As Hula for the Home Front begins, Nanea faces constant reminders of the war—from gas masks and ID cards to curfews and nightly blackouts. Worst of all, her brother won’t stop talking about joining the Army. In the swirl of changes, Nanea turns to hula. Dancing fills her with hope, and she soon discovers its healing power for others.

Girl reading Nanea Book

Guidance for girls today

Through connection, tolerance, and kindness, Nanea showcases how every girl can overcome loss and inspire others to carry on:

A spirit of togetherness. Nanea follows the concept of aloha—the idea that everyone is connected—to help bring her community together after the war begins.

Celebrating diversity. Even though suspicion rises about those of Japanese descent on the island, Nanea is loyal to her friends and defends their patriotism.

Showing compassion. When misunderstandings arise with a new classmate, Nanea decides to reach out and learn both sides of the story.

Watch why character matters

Creating a hero: Nanea comes to life

“We were all asked to critique for language, culture, dates, dress, personal names, and if this is what a girl of Nanea’s age would have done during the 1940s in Hawaii. I came away with a deep appreciation that American Girl has for ‘getting it right’ for the history and for the culture.”

—Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson, Nanea advisory board member, Hawaii native, hula expert, and eyewitness to the bombing of Pearl Harbor



Authentic from the start

The history and culture of Hawaii are unlike anywhere else in America. That’s why seeking out experts—from leading authorities on textiles to master hula dancers to someone who was actually present at the Pearl Harbor attack—was so important to the development of Nanea’s story.

The advisory board offered a wealth of information to Kirby Larson, author of the Nanea series, who consulted them on language, heritage, dress, and more. Kirby added her own research gleaned from reading wartime issues of Honolulu newspapers, digging through library archives, and poring over old photographs and maps.

Much of Hawaii’s history is shared through storytelling. “Talking story” is a favorite way islanders keep their past alive, and how our team of advisors helped bring Nanea’s world to life as well.

Putting it all into play

Fabulous historical teaching

We are so pleased with the craftsmanship and thought that went into this doll. The stories are fantastic and show this period in a thoughtful, meaningful way. The Hawaiian spirit really shines through!

American Girl Customer


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