Sunday, September 28, 2014

Anastasia returns! (No Russian royalty involved.)

Things I love:
-nerdy main characters
-even nerdier parents
-budding-nerd little brothers
-hilarity, especially when it has completely logical reasons for ensuing
-Anastasia Krupnik

Some months ago, a young bookstore customer interrupted my handselling pitch for Lois Lowry's Anastasia Krupnik around "and she lives in Cambridge!" to ask, "Did you write that book?" I realized afterwards that, as I was wearing my glasses that day, I looked a bit like the cover photo. But initially, I thought he was asking because I was so excited about it.

"I wish!" I answered.

And I'm equally excited that the Anastasia books will be re-released starting in January! (Excuse me for a moment while I look askance at the term YA in the linked article and decide that an argument could sort of be made for the later books. Sort of. Okay, that's out of my system.) Maybe it's because realistic fiction is cool again. Maybe it's because the author finally got her Giver movie, though I think that's less of a good reason; the author's ability to do lots of very different things very well does not make for readalikes. (My 1992 printing of Anastasia at this Address - $3.50, by the way - boasts, "By the author of the Newbery Medal winner Number the Stars." That's lovely, but it doesn't mean readers who loved a Holocaust book will love a comedy about a preteen answering an adult's personal ad.) But whatever the reason, I'm very excited that these books might get into more young hands.

Anastasia pays attention to the world around her. She's a reader and a listener, and finds herself interested in language and concepts she doesn't fully understand (echoes of Green Gables, anyone?). She's uncool and wants to be cooler, and is terrible at it in linguistically fascinating ways. Her parents take her seriously enough - or maybe just love their own fields of interest enough - to get into discussions of Wordsworth with her when she's ten. Her little brother Sam gets his own series, and it's funny without being gimmicky. Madcap things happen in many of the books (exploding perfume! Gerbils everywhere! Postal dog doo!), but they happen for reasons that make perfect sense if you follow along with the characters' thought processes.

Welcome back, Anastasia.

ETA: I don't think I'll be mistaken for the Anastasia on the new cover...