Meet Kirsten (American Girl: Kirsten, 1854)

by Janet Shaw

Paperback, 1988




American Girl (1988), 80 pages


Nine-year-old Kirsten and her family experience many hardships as they travel from Sweden to the Minnesota frontier in 1854.

Similar in this library


½ (177 ratings; 3.9)

User reviews

LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
Kirsten has left Sweden on a boat for America, but after docking in New York City, her journey has only just begun! Kirsten has to deal with a new country, language, and culture. She also has to deal with her friend from the journey over dying on the journey to MN. When she gets to MN Kirsten
Show More
discovers that her two new cousins are ready to be friends.
Show Less
LibraryThing member the1butterfly
This is a double of a book in my classroom library. Kirsten has left Sweden on a boat for America, but after docking in New York City, her journey has only just begun! Kirsten has to deal with a new country, language, and culture. She also has to deal with her friend from the journey over dying on
Show More
the journey to MN. When she gets to MN Kirsten discovers that her two new cousins are ready to be friends.
Show Less
LibraryThing member munchkin49
Kirsten is a young girl from Sweden traveling to America with her family and other families from Sweden. They are going to live with her Uncle Olav on his farm in Minnesota. She travels to America on a small sailing ship and is one of many people crowded into it's tiny hole. Kirsten doesn't like
Show More
being in the hole because it is crowded, dark and smells bad. Her family is assigned to a bunk bed for the trip. It is a very rough trip due to the many storms they encounter. Her mother has been seasick the entire time they have been on the boat. Kirsten also has a friend on the ship with her. Her name is Marta. Kristen and Marta enjoy exploring the ship and finding places to hide and talk. But when a storm comes they must stay below in the hole because it would be dangerous on the deck. When they arrive in America they must find food and buy ticket for the train going to Chicago. Marta and Kirsten are seperated for a short while but meet up again in Chicago. Tragedy strikes when they board the steamer ship to Minnesota and Marta becomes sick with Cholera and dies. Kirsten misses her friend dearly but must continue on to Minnesota with her family. When the get to the river town they find out that they do not have enough money to hire a wagon so they must walk to Uncle Olav's farm, leaving all their possessions to be brought later. Kirsten then meets her new cousins and is welcomed by her aunt and uncle with love and hugs. Kirsten quickly settles into her new life on the farm in America.
This is a good book that discribes what is was like as a child to come to America as an immigrant . The discriptions are wonderful when she tells about being on board the ship and how crowded it is and how bad it smell. In New York, Kirsten gets lost and had to think of some way to communicate with a friendly lady where she needs to go. I enjoy reading Kirsten's books because it gives a glimpse into what life was like back then.
One of the classroom extentions I got actually came from the back of the book. It ask would your possessions fit into a single trunk and if not what would you take and what would you leave behind. I think this would be a great exercise to do with the class. I would expand it somewhat for the older students and ask why and how would it help you survive.
The other extention could be to have the student pretend to be aboard a ship and reinact the some of the trip Kirsten talks about. Divide the room into sections, half of the room be the top side of the ship and the other be the hole of the ship, then section off the hole and have the students assigned an area they would have to stay in for the time of the trip. Allow them to have stale bread and water to see what it would have been like and how hard it was.
Show Less
LibraryThing member AnnaLovesBooks
ISBN 0590437879 – As a newly converted fan of the American Girls books, Meet Kirsten was a pleasant read for me. I do have some problems with it, but I’ll save those for last.

Kirsten and her family arrive in America from Sweden in 1854. On the ship, she’s made a great friend in fellow
Show More
traveler Marta, but they are separated in New York when Kirsten’s family goes on a day before Marta’s. New York is loud, dirty and crowded with people who speak languages Kirsten doesn’t recognize – a problem when she becomes separated from her father. Traveling by train, steamboat and even on foot, the family faces challenges all the way to Minnesota, where they join Uncle Olav and his family.

***SPOILER ALERT*** I was very curious about how realistic the story could be without a death aboard the crowded ship. When the family disembarked and everyone was still alive, I was disappointed (for the lack of reality) and relieved (because it is a childrens’ book). Reality returned with a death (I won’t say who) along the way across the country and I was rather surprised that they handled it well. If your child is apt to be upset by the death of a character that they identify with, please read the book before handing it over. The illustrations are average and rather bland, with one exception being the burial. The informative pages at the back, filled with historical facts, keep the book from being too much of a sell-the-dolls tool.

- AnnaLovesBooks
Show Less
LibraryThing member mrsarey
A good story about a girl who emigrates from Sweden to America in 1854.
LibraryThing member meallen1
This book is historical fiction. It is fiction because it is about the life of a doll. There are few pictures in this book and they are all done with colored pencils. The book is about a girl named Kirsten who moves out west, during the early 1800's. She didnt want to move at first but sh ended up
Show More
liking it and making friends. The reading level is second or third grade. The curricular connection is history.
Show Less
LibraryThing member AnnieHidalgo
My daughter just got an American Girl doll for Christmas. Not Kirsten - Samantha, actually. But it made me think about how much I loved these books as a child, and how much I hope she will too. I think these books get a bad rap now, because the series seems so omnipresent and commercialized. But I
Show More
know that as a child, these books gave me a lasting interest in history. For the first time, I had some idea of what it would be like, if I had been born into another time. The Pleasant Company books personalized history.

Unfortunately, now that the company has been bought out by Mattel, they have abandoned the whole idea of bringing girls to history and now seek to bring history to the girl - milking it for maximum entertainment, and the minimum educational value. But the Kirsten, Samantha and Molly books were different. They ARE formulaic. But even that formula serves its purpose, lets the reader compare her own life and traditions to those of the girl in the story, think about what would have been different, and what would be more familiar to a modern girl than you might expect.

Whenever you study history, whether as a first grader, or as a college professor, you are seeking to apply it to your life now, to decide whether our society is still following the same pattern, whether life today is better or worse, and why...The first step to all of that is to be able to put yourself in the shoes of someone who lived before you. These books enable you to do that. Everyone should read them. They are a wonderful start to a fascinating subject, and will only make your daughter want to learn more.

Sorry to be so sexist, but I do think it is very unlikely any boy will want to read a series subtitled "An American Girl". Although I quite enjoyed "The American Boys' Handy Book" and my dad's old issues of Boys Life as a kid. Still, it's too bad there aren't any comparable series for boys. Why is it that history, at the elementary level, appears to be viewed as a feminine domain? And at the adult level, mainstream historical study becomes traditionally masculine? (At least it seems to be - the History Channel is forever showing things about wars, fighting, planes - all those things little boys were supposed to like when we were nine, and in my own experience, grown men are equally fascinated by).

Ok, I've completely gone off the subject. Do buy these books. They're not just a way to get girls to buy dolls. Look beyond the marketing.
Show Less
LibraryThing member barnes08
Meet Kirsten is written by Janet Shaw also illustrations by Renee Graef. The book is a part of The American Girls Collection. Kristen family is from Sweden and traveling to America to help her uncle Olva on his farm in Minnesota. Once they landed Kristen, her dad along with peter her brother went
Show More
into town to buy bread and milk. Kristen becomes lost in town and could not speak English. She drew a picture in the sand of a boat and the lady led her to the docks. Kristen was glad to see her family. Kristin family rides a train. Next the Kristen meets back up with her friend Marta and they both ride a riverboat across the Mississippi. On the riverboat Marta dies of cholera. Then Kristen and her family walk several miles to her uncle’s farm, where her cousin and aunt happily greet them.

I like this book. When Kirsten friend died it made me feel sad. I remember reading some of The American Girls Collection in grade school. This series is great chapter books for children that just starting to chapter books. I enjoyed how the book talk about no one understood because they didn’t speak the same language. I like how Kristen was smart to draw a picture of a ship.

I would suggest this to a student who likes journeys. I would use this book to introduce social studies lessons. I would read the book to the whole class prior to the lessons. Lessons on immigration, journey to new places and being lost are some of the different lessons I would do with this book. I could also use this book to talk about the time frame of 1854. We would talk about how they didn’t have cars or airplane. We would talk about ships, trains, riverboats and wagons. We could also discuss diseases and death. I might read this book and suggest for my students to read the next books in this series.
Show Less
LibraryThing member amandawebster
This story documents the journey of Kirsten Larson as she travels from Sweden to America in 1854. She faces language barriers, Indians, and poverty, but uses her courage and strength to find hope for the future. All of the American Girl stories provide strong female role models and give a wonderful
Show More
glimpse of what life was like in that historical time period.
Show Less
LibraryThing member DarlenesBookNook
I read this book aloud to my daughters.

This is the first book in the American Girls Kirsten Series. This is our first book in any American Girl series and our first book by this author.

We love reading books that take place during the 1800s time period. In this book, Kirsten's family immigrates from
Show More
Sweden to America in 1854. They are travelling to Minnesota to join family members already settled there. Along the way, they experience some difficulties. The series continues with five more books.

We really enjoyed the book! When I told my daughters that there is an American Girl website and that there is an historical Kirsten doll, they were so excited! They went from not knowing who American Girl was to now having American Girl dolls, catalogs, and playing games on their website! Smart marketing! We are hooked on the American Girl historical books and dolls.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ShelbyStancil
A girl named Kirsten and her family moves from Sweden to the America's in 1854. The are going west like everyone else seems to be going this time. It is not an easy ride but they all survive. The friend that she made on the ride over contracts Cholera. It is unsure if she will make it or
Show More
not. When she dies it takes a toll on Kirsten but she makes it through. It talks about how things were like back then at the back of the book.

Personal Reaction:
I love these books. The American Girl books have been in my life for a very long time. They provide girls a series of role models that are not from this time period. They give them a window into a time that they were not here for. Women are often not shown in the best or greatest light but Kirsten shows that things will get better no matter where you come from.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1. Dress up in the time period to show the kids what it was like.
2. Have them research in groups about what life was like in the 1800's and create a collage or picture of what they've found.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Catie.Huskey
Summary: This book is about Kristen coming to America from Sweden to help her uncle on his farm in Minnesota. They have a culture shock because they are not able to speak the same language. Kristen gets lost from her family and has to draw to communicate so that she can make her way back to her
Show More
family. She also faces her best friend dying along the trip to make it to her uncle's farm.
Personal reaction: I loved the American girl stories growing up! I was also able to relate to this story because I was overseas this summer and it was very challenging not being able to speak the same language as the others around you. I could only imagine getting lost!
Classroom extensions: One idea would be to have children draw to communicate with other classmates. another idea would be to talk about the journeys people took to come to America.
Show Less
LibraryThing member mariah_westlake
Review: This book is about a family immigrating from Sweden to America to work on Kirsten's Uncle's Olive farm. They cannot speak english, are introduced to new customs, and have only the belongings they could carry for a while at least. Her best friend, Marta, dies on the journey, and Kirsten
Show More
almost gets lost for good! Kirsten is very curious and likes to adventure off with her cousins.

Personal Reaction: I love the whole American Girl series and was glad to have an excuse to get the books out again!

Classroom: 1) Devided into groups, the class could give presentations about what life was like for people of different backgrounds at the time.
2) We could go on a field trip to see a traditional farm or the ships that were common at the time. Depending on where I am teachng.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Erinhardy3
Summary: This is about a girl named Kristen who is from Sweden and knows nothing about the American culture. On her way to America she almost loses or best friend when actually one of her friends ends up passing away also. She is always very curios during this adventure.
Reaction: I overall thought
Show More
this is a good book, and was obsessed with American girl while I was growing up as a child
Classroom Extension: The kids cold dress up in old clothes and put on a play about what it was like back in the day and they could also go on a field trip to see what it was like in those days and see the farms and tractors
Show Less
LibraryThing member TristinHolt
Summary of book:
Meet Kirsten: An American Girl by Janet Beeler Shaw is based on a young emigrant from Sweden in 1854. Kirsten knows nothing about America and its culture. She loses her best friend, Marta, to cholera during their long and dreary expedition to the unknown lands of the United State.
Show More
Because of how much money it takes to get everything to Uncle Olive’s farm, Kirsten only can take what she can carry. After settling in, Kirsten gets lost in her adventures with her cousins. Soon as she realizes America is okay, Kirsten Larson begins to warm up to the different ideals and customs that America has to offer.

Personal Reaction to the Book:
I grew up on the American Girls series. I have almost all of the books and still read them to this day. I personally think this book series is one of the greatest American Girl series of them all. Kirsten Larson is in a new setting far, far away from her homeland. She cannot speak the language and doesn’t understand the customs. Although some students are lucky and do not have to deal with moving around a lot, there is an enormous amount of students who come from families who do. Any student, boy or girl of any age can read this series and understand that moving is hard, but it will get better over time.

1. The teacher can dress up in clothing from the time period to show the students what people wore in the 1800’s. If the students would like and it is allowed by the teacher or principal, the students may dress up the next few days in clothing they think was worn in the 19th Century.
2. Students can research what life was like in the 1800’s and write a report. If time allows, students can create a small poster of their research and hang it on the wall.
3. Younger students can color pages of farms, tractors, and wooden cabins. The teacher can describe the life of the pioneers without any air conditioning or heat.
Show Less
LibraryThing member DeborahJ2016
Got this book in 1986 along with the Kirsten doll. Even though the American Girls line has changed dramatically over the years, this book is still one of my favorites in the series.
LibraryThing member Marse
Kirsten's story is well-paced and sure to capture the attention of its readers. Kirsten and her family are approaching America on a ship, which is pummeled by a storm. Despite the awfulness of being cooped up inside where the smells of people's sickness is unavoidable, at least Kirsten has a friend
Show More
whose family also came from Sweden to America. Once in America things do not get easier. Kirsten gets lost and no one can understand her, and then her friend gets mortally ill. Finally, they reach Minnesota and are greeted by family.

I enjoyed the Kirsten story better than Josefina's, mainly because Josefina's narrative so seemed so flat. She never really came alive for me. Kirsten's narrative is told in a more engaging manner, Kirsten seems more rounded and interesting and the tale builds in a way that makes one want to keep reading. Recommended for 6-9 year olds.
Show Less


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

8.5 inches


0937295019 / 9780937295014


Page: 0.9741 seconds