Monday, January 27, 2014

Middle Grade Diary Novel Explores History and Mystery of Grand Duchess Anastasia

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

One of my most favorite animated movies of all time is the 1997 Fox film Anastasia.  I love everything about it—the characters, the music, the voice talents, and, of course, the story.  It's full of mystery, romance, humor, courage, redemption, all of it!  I just wish the movie's happy ending echoed what really happened to the grand duchess.  But, the truth is, Anastasia Nicholaievna, youngest daughter of Russia's Tsar Nicholas II, was killed along with the rest of her family in 1918.  Probably.  

Many books have been written about Anastasia, including Carolyn Meyer's middle grade version, which she published in 2000.  Part of Scholastic's Royal Diaries series (a spin-off of its popular Dear America series), the novel explores the life of Anastasia through fictional diary entries.  Recently re-printed with lovely new cover art, the book begins in January of 1914, when Anastasia is just 12.  Through the observations she shares with her journal, readers learn what her day-to-day life must have been like.  Although her father worries about his kingdom, his daughter's more interested in ice skating and performing skits with her sisters—anything to escape her boring studies!  She's feisty, mischievous and, as the year wears on, terrified.  Her country's in trouble, the imperial family at risk of being ousted from their palace home.  As Anastasia's privileged life crumbles quickly and irrevocably, she must learn to be strong even in the worst of times.  Because, for Nicholas II and his family, these are very bad times indeed.  

The diary ends in May of 1918, a couple months before Anastasia's death.  Although the Epilogue gives "the rest of the story," the book's open-ended conclusion leaves room for the reader's imagination to create her own ending.  I choose to believe it happened like it does in the cartoon—with triumph, love, and a whole lot of happily ever after!

While Meyer's Anastasia may not be the greatest historical fiction ever written, I found it to be a quick, intriguing read that taught me some new facts about Russia, royal life and, of course, the mysterious Grand Duchess Anastasia.  

(Readalikes:  Other books in the Royal Diaries series as well as books in the Dear America series)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated: 


for violence and intense situations/scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Anastasia from the generous folks at Scholastic.  Thank you!

2 comments:

  1. This sounds like a cute book. I love Anastasia, the movie, too!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love pretty much everything about the Romanov story. As a teenager I would go to the library and read anything I could find about their fall and specifically Anastasia. Also, the movie is fantastic :)

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