I wrote before how I have been collecting Scholastic Royal diaries books and I’m pleased to note I have only one more book to go before I have the whole collection.
This book is a fictional diary of the last princess of Hawaii Victoria Kaiulani (1875-1899). I knew that Hawaii once had a monarchy but I didn’t know the circumstances to why it dissolved or when Hawaii became a state of America. So I learnt a little bit about Hawaiian history from this book.
The diary starts from 1889 when Kaiulani is 13 years old and ends in 1893 when she is 17. The book is about when she was educated in England. She was the heir to throne as her uncle, King David Kalakaua didn’t have any biological children and when he died, he was succeeded by Kaiulani’s aunt Lydia Liluokalani (David Kalakaua’ sister) who also didn’t have any children.
Kaiulani’s family wanted her to go to England so that she would have a classical education and would become a refined young woman. It was particularly important as Hawaiians were perceived as uncivilised and the Americans wanted Hawaii to become an American state.
Kaiulani was a mature young woman. She never complained about her royal duties and was always well behaved and gracious when she had to do public appearances. She knew that her actions reflected on the Hawaiian monarchy.
In the book, she has a good time in England and in Europe as she got to travel during the school holidays. She had a guardian named Mr Theo Davies and her step sister Annie Cleghorn was with her for some time in England too. Although Kaiulani did miss her life back home and her friends and family. She was concerned about the politics at home because of the threat of Hawaii becoming an American state.
I thought the book would be a boarding school story, where it would be about girls getting up to mischief at school, dealing with bullies and fitting in. While the book does mention the subjects she took, her school friends and teachers, it doesn’t dwell into the everyday school experience.
The book covers four years of Kaiulani’s life, her travelling and meeting people, her school life and what’s happening in Hawaii but it doesn’t feel rushed. The book reaches a dramatic point when Kaiulani finds out that the Hawaiian monarchy gets overthrown and becomes an American state. She travels to America to plead her case but unfortunately for her, she is not successful.
I enjoyed reading about Kaiulani. She always carried herself with dignity yet she was a down to earth girl and had the normal worries of a young woman such as what to wear and making a good impression on people. I learned more about the 18th century and it was fun reading about her marvelling the different places she got to visit and the people she met. She was good friends with Robert Louis Stevenson who was the author of Treasure Islands and other such classics. She also met Grover Cleveland, the president of America at the time.
I think this book would appeal to middle school girls who like to read books about girls in the olden days such as Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna.
As I have finished this book, I can now add another $5 to my MSReadathon fund!