Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The JUV FIC Corner presents “Anastasia at Your Service”

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Remember a couple summers ago when I started re-reading some of my childhood favorites and I called it the JUV FIC Corner? Yeah, I barely do either. It was a series of a posts I started, and I wrote a handful on them on such childhood classics as The Great Brain, Maniac Magee, and Anastasia Krupnik. Recently, I pulled out my e-reader for a book club book, and I saw the Anastasia Krupnik series available digitally, so I decided to add the next in the series for a quick, fun read.

Anastasia at Your Service is the third in Lois Lowry’s series. By now, Anastasia is twelve and living that perpetual ennui that plagues pre-teens. She is stuck at home all summer and BORED. Her solution is to earn some money as a Companion to some old, rich lady, so Anastasia puts up flyers around town advertising her services. She gets a gig pretty quickly with the wealthy Mrs. Bellingham, only to find out Mrs. Bellingham expects her to be a maid. Anastasia—a maid! Though she’s ready to storm out and quit on the basis that old Bellingham took advantage on her services, Anastasia accidentally threw a piece of silver down the garbage disposal and now has to pay off her debt.

Anastasia matures quite a bit in this one as she faces any kid’s nightmare and learns the most valuable lesson of growing up: sometimes, you have to do things you don’t want to do. (Ugh, I know, it’s still terrible, no matter how old you are!) The Krupnik parents are fabulous and one of the most satisfying things about this series. They treat Anastasia as an equal; she’s not coddled or babied at all. They teach her decision-making as an adult, have conversations with her as if she’s older than 12, and it lends a lot to this character’s upbringing. Anastasia is taken seriously by the adults closest to her, and I think that’s how all kids and pre-teens want to feel. She’s a relatable character because the reader learns lessons alongside of her, and ultimately, Anastasia is a person you want to emulate.

I really enjoy this series because it’s intelligent, funny, and by no means dumbed down for the audience. It’s refreshing to read a series for kids that isn’t censored or simplified. Though it’s not necessarily a bad thing, most JUV series treat the kids like they are kids; their tone recognizes a definite divide between kids and adults. The Anastasia series is unique in that this line is blurred, making it a perfect series for those kids who just need something a little more.

What were your favorite series as a kid? What enticed you to pick up a book?

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