“Ten is the prime of life.” Or Anastasia Krupnik

I don’t know how I’ve managed to not write about an Anastasia Krupnik book yet. A while ago, The Unprofessional Critic did a guest post for me on Anastasia at This Address. But, for whatever reason, I haven’t gotten around to re-reading good old Anastasia yet.

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This is the first Anastasia book, and only Lois Lowry’s second published book. And oh my, it’s a good one. Anastasia is precocious, snarky, and funny. It was a great read for young girls in the eighties who maybe weren’t getting female protagonists quite like Anastasia.

In this book, Anastasia is ten years old and an only child (for now) to her poetry professor father and painter mother. Anastasia is too smart and curious for her own good sometimes, and her parents wisely answer all her crazy questions about life. Anastasia keeps an ongoing list of things she likes and things she doesn’t. In fact, each chapter ends with Anastasia’s updated list.

This book reminds me a little of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary, particularly the earlier Ramona books, in that each chapter almost works as its own little short story, with one common theme threaded through. In this case, the common thread is that Anastasia’s parents are expecting another baby, a boy. And they’ve given Anastasia the honor of naming him. Considering Anastasia is less than thrilled about becoming a big sister, that’s incredibly brave of her parents. But, when you read it, you understand that her parents are doing it because they believe in her to do the right thing.

Hilariously though, Anastasia’s initial plan is to give the baby a name after hearing some boys in her class telling a dirty joke. The name? One-Ball Reilly.

Anastasia’s other plans include trying to become Catholic (so she can change her name), then a Hare Krishna, attempting to get an afro to impress a boy (the impressively named Washburn Cummings), accompanying her father to one of his poetry classes, and admiring the shiny pink wart on her finger.

Meanwhile, Anastasia’s grandmother is ailing. She has either dementia or alzheimers. The day Anastasia’s wart falls off, Grandmother dies. Anastasia and her father go to clear out her room, and Anastasia learns a lot about the grandmother, including how much she loved her husband, Sam. That afternoon, the mom goes into labor and Anastasia does decide to do the right thing, and names her baby brother Sam. And, in a weird side note, Anastasia is only ten and her grandmother is 92! Anastasia’s father is forty-five, which is some crazy math right there – grandmother gave birth to the dad at forty-seven!

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Anastasia is a fun, quirky protagonist, the kind of girl I really wanted to be, except that I was a shy introverted little bookworm who was deathly afraid of being seen a strange.

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About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
This entry was posted in Lois Lowry, Sibling Rivalry, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “Ten is the prime of life.” Or Anastasia Krupnik

  1. Laura says:

    Thank you!! Anastasia Krupnik is one of my favorites. I always wanted a tower room like hers. And I loved when she wrote the poem and her teacher didn’t “get it” and then her father read it and told her it was a very good poem. And I always think about how she wanted to change her name because it didn’t end with an i and all the girls in her class were forming an i club (kelli, Lili etc…)

    • nikkihb says:

      That whole nickname thing was weird, because when I’d read this book the first time, I had already read many BSC books, and I knew Stacey’s first name was Anastasia. So I was wondering why Anastasia Krupnik didn’t just go with Staci.

      • CB says:

        Right, or Anni. Stacey from BSC once gave a fake name that she wanted to base on her real name or something, and went with Annie.

  2. kristen says:

    Lois Lowry has so many good books. This is probably the best Anastasia one. When I re-read this as an adult (glad I’m not the only one who does that) I was kind of surprised Lowry was daring enough to have Anastasia crush on an African American boy. It just wasn’t as an accepted thing in 1979/80 as it is today, though I didn’t think enough of it as a kid to even remember it. Also, Anastasia could be a total brat (especially about finding out her mother was pregnant), but the parents were so laid back and just sort of let her work out her own issues in a free to be 70’s kind of way…sometimes it seemed Anastasia could use some discipline, but still, the parents were very cool. There were also a few things I remember that were very deep for a children’s book. Something about how sometimes people (like the grandmother) have nothing left in life but can still look to their memories to make what life they have worthwhile. Lowry doesn’t talk down to kids. It’s a very simple book about a 10 year old girl, but makes you think at the same time. Now I want to re-re-read it.

    • nikkihb says:

      I hadn’t even thought about it being sort of unusual for her to crush on an African American boy, but you’re right! I don’t think it made me bat an eye when I read this book originally, but I must have thought about it a little, only because I went to a very white elementary school and having a crush on a black kid would have been impossible for no other reason than I didn’t know any. So looking back, I must have noted it, but I was probably more enthralled with other things in teh book.

  3. helsieboo says:

    Oh my word, I totally forgot Anastasia. I loved here and now I’m going to have to hunt her out. I thought it was very touching when she named her brother Sam and I just remembered how shocked by 9 year old self was when I read the word “shit” in the book.

    • nikkihb says:

      Oh man, I totally meant to bring up the shit thing. This is what happens when I read without taking notes, and read and let a few weeks go before posting….

  4. About the book: Anastasia’s tenth year has some good things like falling in love and really getting to know her grandmother and some bad things like finding out about an impending baby brother. This is the first book in the Anastasia series.

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