Anastasia Krupnik

Summary

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.

Review

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.

Details

  • 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

 

Bless This Mouse

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With the annual Blessing of the Animals right around the corner, Mistress Mouse Hildegard has a lot on her plate trying to keep the 200 members of her clan out of sight. Alas, a few rogue mice are seen by some parishioners and now the church mice must prepare for a Great X. Will they survive? And if they can make it through the Great X, how will they ever survive all those cats at the Blessings of the Animals?

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I wanted to like this book. Scratch that. I wanted to love this book.  Adorable mice. Church. A Blessing of the Animals.  Alas, not 10 pages into the book we have Hildegard the Head Mistress Mouse commanding one of her charges to “stop this incessant reproduction!” And, lest we think ill of Hildegard for her harshness, the narrator admonishes us, “Hildegard was not wrong to try to limit the numbers. Too many church mice was a very dangerous situation.”  On the surface, the book would you have believe that there is an infestation of very religious mice in this church building.  In truth, these mice are no friends of the Church. While the mice are cute – the book is illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Eric Rohmann – their message isn’t. A wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf. Sin in a church is still a sin – even if its decked out with fur, small, ears, and a cute squeak.

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  • Author: Lois Lowry
  • Illustrator: Eric Rohman
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (March 21, 2011)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher’s Reading Level: Age 9 and up

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What You Need to Know:

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  • Role Models – Hildegard is a strong and decisive leader but she is rude, condescending, and caddy. While she deserves credit for saving the clan, her personality isn’t corrected – just avenged.
  • Violence – Pest control is going to wipe out the mice. Lucretia (the mouse trying to usurp Hildegard) seems to get her due by falling into a glue trap. The ensuing struggle to get out could be considered “intense” with Lucretia in pain, screeching, feet bleding, and loses whiskers.
  • Sexual Content – Though she considers herself too old for romantic foolishness, when the going gets tough she does realize that she could use a “special friend,” Roderic.
  • Language – No foul language.
  • Consumerism – Multiple mentions of Splenda
  • Drinking/Smoking/Drugs – One mouse stays behind from meetings to eat a few flakes of tobacco. One mouse enjoys wine spilled in the sacristy as “he enjoys a good nip”. He gets “tipsy” and only stops because there isn’t anymore wine to drink.
  • Religion – Anti life. Hildegard is disgusted by a mouse who has several litters. The mouse, in turn, is embarrassed of having so many children. Fear of overcrowding. Definition of Saint is “someone who is especially blessed”.  It does use terms like “sacristy” and “narthex” correctly. Father Murphy regularly spills wine in the sacristy.
  • Other – “Nobody likes adolescents”. [/unordered_list]