Ten year old Anastasia Krupnik has a rough life: her teacher doesn’t like her poetry, her parents are having a baby (and they didn’t even consult her!), she has a crush on a sixth-grade boy, and her parents insist she visit her 80-year old grandmother (who is old! and makes her feel uncomfortable!). Whew! Thankfully, Anastasia has a secret green notebook to work out all of her fourth grade trials.
I’m sure Lois Lowry intended to write a novel sympathetic of the trials of 4th grade girls across America. But I found myself bored of Anastasia’s know-it-all personality, and tired of her self-centeredness. I am happy to say I don’t know of any 4th graders like Anastasia Krupnik. It was refreshing to read she lived in a home with both (married) parents. These parents, of course, are superior to me – they are of the enlightened sort and interact with Anastasia as the capable adult they view her to be. In the privacy of her own room, however, Anastasia sorts out her struggles by writing about them in her secret green notebook. In the end, Anastasia’s problems are resolved – but I am left questioning the wisdom of the answers arrived at by a child. If read at all, this is definitely a book parents should read before handing it over to their children, and most definitely a book that requires discussion afterwards.
- Author: Lois Lowry
- Publisher: Yearling (November 1, 1984)
- Paperback: 144 pages
- Reading Age: Ages 9 +
What You Need to Know
- Role Models/Authority Figures – Anastasia’s parents are married. Her father is a poet, her mother a painter. Both parents are portrayed as being “wise” and “enlightened”.
- Violence – None.
- Sexual Content - Anastasia makes the sign of the cross remembering to “forehead. Belly Button. Left nipple. Right nipple.” (31) The Krupnik family discusses funny names including that of a former art model “Felicity Brest.” (31) Anastasia, trying to impress a boy she has a crush on “twitches her hips a little. She had practiced both the hello and the hips for a long time…” (46)Anastasia has a discussion with her mother in Chapter 8 about her “love affair” before shet met Myron (her husband, Anastasia’s father). They would “spend the weekend” and then stay in a hotel in South Carolina. Anastasia ask her father if he’s had a love affair after he and her mother were married [no] (83)
- Language – Anastasia wrote in her journal that she wanted to name her baby brother “one-ball Reilly” (95)
- Consumerism – None
- Drinking/Smoking/Drugs – Anastasia is allowed to sip some of her parent’s wine from their glass. Myron purchases cigars to celebrate the birth of his son. (110) Anastasia sips the foam off her father’s beer. (109)
- Religion – Anastasia thinks about becoming a Catholic. In a discussion with her 4th grade friend, the two have a conversation about Catholic doctrine – most of which is inaccurate. No corrections of this are made in the book. Her father makes the sign of the cross (in response to her attempt described above) “Nose. Stomach. Left ear. Right ear.” (33)
- Other – Anastasia struggles with liking her grandmother, because she is old. In the end, Anastasia realizes she loved her grandmother.
- Awards – School Library Journal Best Book