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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the never-before-seen photographs in this book show the ordinary side of life in imperial Russia, but the book is long and the most interesting events don't get enough attention. The reasons for the revolution aren't discussed, and parents may need to fill in some of the blanks.
What's the story?
Designed like a scrapbook, organized chronologically and spanning the seventeen years between the birth and death of Anastasia, ANASTASIA'S ALBUM uses never-before-published family photos and letters to describe the life of the Romanovs, the last family to rule Russia.
Readers literally see life behind closed doors, including family vacations, private pursuits, and the children's schooling. Russia's involvement in World War I is presented, as is the family's exile to Siberia before the Bolshevik Revolution.
An epilogue describes the assassination of the Romanovs and briefly discusses the mystery surrounding a woman who claimed to be Anastasia. A glossary and a map supplement the text.
Is it any good?
The real treasures here are the rare family photographs and documents that were long secreted within Soviet archives. But their significance is probably lost on young readers, unless they read the book with a parent who takes time to discuss the Russian Revolution and the rise of the Soviet Union.
The author oversimplifies, attempting to characterize the Romanovs as a normal family: "He was just their papa, and they were a family like any other." But their difference from most every other family in Russia at that time was one of the factors that spawned the revolution and led to their deaths. More attention should be paid to what everyday life was like for the majority of Russians, putting into context the historical events that eventually claimed Anastasia's life. The mystery of Anna Anderson, the woman who later claimed to be Anastasia, is briefly discussed in the book's epilogue.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Russian Revolution and the subsequent rise (and fall) of the Soviet Union. Parents can explain what led to the revolution and why the ruling family was executed. In what ways was Anastasia like ordinary Russian girls? In what ways was she very different?