14:22 h / 2021/01/01
New character takes fans Down Under to explore wildlife protection and climate change
American Girl, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mattel, has unveiled its 2021 Girl of the Year, Kira Bailey. Kira - a nurturing and inquisitive 10-year-old who cares deeply for animals and the environment - joins American Girl’s line of contemporary characters that inspires children to make a positive difference in the world. Whether she’s caring for an orphaned koala joey or facing a bushfire that’s threatening her great-aunts’ wildlife sanctuary in Australia, Kira confronts critical ecological issues, such as wildlife protection and the threat of climate change, that are more relevant to our planet than ever.
“As American Girl kicks off its 35th year, Kira joins our lineup of diverse and purposeful characters who star in stories that reflect the realities of the times - whether it’s historical or modern-day,” says Jamie Cygielman, General Manager of American Girl. “As we all witnessed the bushfires rage in Australia last year and start up again this September, and the devastating wildfires in the western United States, we knew it was important to focus Kira’s story on the major conservation and climate challenges facing our planet today - causes that are extremely important to today’s youth. Through Kira, we hope our fans will learn that we all have a part to play in taking positive action for our planet.”
To further support Kira’s message, American Girl is partnering with NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service, Inc. (WIRES), Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization dedicated to rescuing and caring for sick, injured, and orphaned animals, including those impacted by bushfires and drought. Today through December 30, 2021, American Girl is supporting the organization’s mission to rehabilitate and preserve Australian wildlife by matching customer donations dollar for dollar up to a maximum of $25,000. To learn more about how American Girl is helping WIRES, visit www.americangirl.com/kira .
“Last year, Australia’s fire season was unlike anything previously experienced in terms of scale and severity, with fires destroying millions of hectares of land - much of which was threatened-species habitat,” says Kyla Shelley, Chief Operating Officer for WIRES. “Wild species worldwide are facing enormous challenges - including extinction - mainly due to habitat loss, natural disasters, and climate change. Just like Kira discovers, everyone can get involved in wildlife rescue and protection, and it’s not too late to make a difference wherever you live.”
To create Kira, American Girl worked hand in hand with author Erin Teagan, who holds a master’s degree in science and traveled to Australia to gain a deeper understanding of Kira’s experiences. Other consultants specializing in Australian wildlife and culture reviewed all aspects of Kira’s world - from manuscripts to products - to help ensure every detail was rooted in real practices and science, with the following two experts playing an integral role:
Dr. Alison Bee - Veterinarian, owner and manager of Magnetic Island Animal Hospital, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility for sick, injured, and orphaned koalas in North Queensland, Australia.
Tassin Barnard - Owner and manager of the Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park, a wildlife preserve on the central coast of New South Wales.
In the two-book series, Kira is excited to leave her home state of Michigan and spend her summer abroad at her great-aunts’ Mamie and Lynette’s wildlife sanctuary and vet clinic in Queensland, Australia. There she learns to care for injured or orphaned animals with her new friend Alexis. But when a roving predator and a raging bushfire threaten the sanctuary, Kira must rise to the challenge to protect her family and the animals she loves. In the end, Kira learns you can’t let the fear of the worst keep you from living your best.
Bringing the stories to life is a beautiful 18-inch Kira doll, featuring green eyes and long, wavy blonde hair, that comes dressed in a tie-dye tank, sporty skirt, and lace-up boots perfect for bushwalking. Kira’s signature accessories include an outdoor backpack with koala keychain and a wide-brimmed hat to protect her from the Australian sun. Girls can choose from several other Australian-inspired outfits, including Kira’s girl-and-doll koala PJs, as well as adorable plush animals like a kangaroo and joey, koala, and a wombat (part of Kira’s Wildlife Rescue Set). To extend the play further, there’s Kira’s Animal Exam Table and Comfy Platform Tent - both with over 20 authentic accessories - to fuel girls’ imaginations.
To celebrate Kira’s debut, fans can participate in the following activities and events:
Watch Kira-inspired videos on American Girl’s popular YouTube and YouTube Kids Channel, including a six-week “Meet Kira” stop-motion series, plus Kira music videos, DIY crafts, and other Kira-inspired content throughout the year.
Learn more from the experts involved in Kira’s development and other amazing girls who are making a positive difference for our planet by tuning into our “Making of Kira” video and reading about “Why Kira Matters.”
Have fun on Kira’sfree dedicated play site and explore her wildlife sanctuary and play Kira-themed games.
As a companion to Kira's stories, American Girl is also introducing a nonfiction advice book, Love the Earth, for readers 8 and up. The fully illustrated guide helps readers understand climate change and offers tips and tools for living an earth-friendly life. Available January 1, the book is a great choice for emerging environmentalists who want to speak up for climate change solutions. More climate-related events and partnerships will launch in April 2021.