American Girl of the Year" doll hails from


And if you're wondering why people care about the American Girl doll of the year, you probably don't have a young female in your life. Collecting American Girls is a big deal, and AG stores -- such as the huge one in Chicago -- are draws for tourists.

Back to the 2011 "Girl of the Year," Say aloha to Kanani Akina, from the island of Kauai. It's the first Girl of the Year from Hawaii, AG says. Kanani has a story: She's described as a caring girl who helps others and whose proudest moment was rescuing a baby Hawaiian Monk Seal she calls Malana. In American Girl tradition, she'll be available for one year, then she's a collectible. She costs $100; accessories (extra) include a wardrobe, a paddleboard, Hawaiian shave ice stand and plush seal. American Girl is partnering with the National Wildlife Fund by donating $1 from each doll's sale to help fund wildlife education programs.

CAPTIONCourtesy of American Girl

The Kauai Visitors Bureau is doing a traditional blessing on the beach for the doll and I'm sure hoping this sparks more interest in the island. Back on the Mainland, girls can take part in Kanani-themed activities at AG stores, including hula lessons, learning about Hawaiian crafts and food. For more information, visit or call 800-845-0005.

I never knew about American Girl until I made the acquaintance of a 9-year-old with a collection of dozens. Can any readers enlighten me on why they are so popular?