McKenna Shoots for the Stars Blu-Ray/DVD Review

On July 3rd, 2012, the newest American Girl movie will be available for purchase through Wal-mart, American Girl retailers (online as well), and as a digital download on select websites (including Amazon.com). A New American Girl is released each year to empower young females as they follow their dreams and learn to have faith in themselves. The 2012 Girl of the Year is McKenna Brooks, a 9-year-old girl with aspirations of becoming a world class gymnast.

11-year-old Jade Pettyjohn stars as McKenna Brooks in the newest American Girl movie entitled McKenna Shoots for the Stars. The new doll and film were a perfect tie-in for the Men’s and Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Trials, which took place June 28-July 1st in San Jose, California. A special sneak preview of American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars was held outside of the HP Pavilion during the course of the weekend.

McKenna Brooks (Jade Pettyjohn) has dreams of becoming a world class gymnast, but puts them on hold after she injures her ankle during a competition. During her recovery period, McKenna has to focus on her schoolwork with the help of her new tutor, Josie (Kerris Dorsey). At first, McKenna is embarrassed to admit to anyone that she needs help to get a passing grade. She avoids telling the truth to her close friend, Toulane (Ysa Penarejo), who begins to feel neglected and replaced because of how much time McKenna is spending with Josie. McKenna Shoots For the Stars is about a young girl working to make her dream come true, but also about the important role that friendship and family plays in making dreams a reality.

McKenna Shoots for the Stars was my first ever experience with the American Girl franchise and has made me want to explore the books, dolls, and previous movies. The character of McKenna will be a role model for all girls who are balancing sports, music, and other extracurricular activities with their regular lives and schoolwork. The film also touches on all the ups and downs of friendship: strong support systems, competitiveness, and jealousy. At first, McKenna doesn’t like her tutor, Josie, but soon discovers this girl is the best person for the tutoring sessions. In their regular lives, McKenna and Josie are very different from another: McKenna is a gymnast, and Josie is wheelchair-bound. During her healing period, McKenna learns how to put herself in someone else’s shoes. While McKenna and Josie become close, the outspoken and fiery Toulane feels abandoned and hurt. It’s up to McKenna to repair her friendship with Toulane and maybe even bring Toulane and Josie together.

McKenna Shoots for the Stars is a film that parents should watch with their children. Parents always want the best for their offspring, but sometimes don’t realize that their children’s dreams for themselves are different than the dreams the parents have for their children. I loved watching this theme play out in the film; I think it will encourage positive conversation between parents and their children.

Film Clip: “Toulane Spies on McKenna”

McKenna Shoots for the Stars will air on NBC on July 14th, 2012 at 8/7C.

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Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample of the product for review purposes. The opinions are my own, based on my personal experience with the product.


Jen currently lives in Utah with her family, and enjoys reading and writing in her spare time. She is active on popular book websites including paperbackswap.com, Goodreads.com, and luxuryreading.com.

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