You look. You search. Click-click-clicking through racks of clothes and rows of CDs for that certain something that will take hold of the young girl in your life, and make her...

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You look. You search. Click-click-clicking through racks of clothes and rows of CDs for that certain something that will take hold of the young girl in your life, and make her feel as wonderful as you know she truly is.


Nothing. Nothing. And then you happen upon a table of colorful, spiral-bound books about a young girl named “Pascualina” and a crowd that has gathered.


“Are these journals?” someone asks.


They’re journals. And datebooks. Stories. And recipes.


More, they are a safe place for girls at an age when they don’t always feel safe about their feelings, their bodies or their places in the world.


The book’s central character leads them around the globe, with an illustrated storyline about her travels with her family, questions for her readers and spaces where they can respond and reflect in their own hand, in their own time, and in their very own, private way.


The dark-haired, green-eyed Pascualina has a 15-year, “Hello Kitty”-like following in Latin America, where her diary sells 1 million copies a year. She hit the U.S. earlier this year, via the marketing team of Magdalena Ross and Martha Moseley, both of Seattle. Ross, a native of Chile, is a cousin of Pascualina’s creator.


“Pascualina becomes a friend, experiencing the same things girls are,” said Ross.


Said Moseley: “The book acknowledges that girls have real issues and angst. They learn that it’s OK to be off-kilter, or disagree.”


The book has space for classic diary entries, and stickers to inspire and encourage. (“I know I’m lucky, even though I don’t have everything.” “I look strong, but I’m not.”)


The books have been used as a learning tool in the YMCA’s Patsy Collins Adventures in Leadership program, as well as its “Girls of Promise” for middle-schoolers. That program includes everything from self-defense training (where the girls even make the lanyards for their safety whistles) to karaoke parties.


“I think back to the diary I had when I was 12,” said YMCA spokeswoman Monica Elenbaas. “It was just a blank page, and where do you start? What do you know at that age?”


Bea Gruwell, 13, was introduced to Pascualina through the YMCA, and shares her book with a friend.


“It’s really cool because, like, it can help you show your feelings,” said Bea, a student at Einstein Middle School in Shoreline. “If you don’t want to write anything, you can put a sticker there. You can carry around it with you.”


Plus: “It’s not electronic.”


She is getting another for 2005 — the books cost $16.95 and are available at University Book Store, Elliott Bay Book Co., Fremont Place Bookstore and Canopy Blue in Seattle, as well as on Amazon.com — but will save the one she’s about to finish.


“Just maybe in the future, if I have children,” she said, “we can look back on it.”


Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com.


Do they have them for 43-year-olds who are perpetually off-kilter?