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IEF
05-23-2017, 05:05 PM
I'm putting this here even though my family starts them as read alouds much younger because Anastasia is thirteen in most of the books and they deal with issues of growing up in a fun and humorous manner. Anastasia's family is extremely quirky but delightful. The descriptions of Cambridge and Boston are so vivid and accurate you almost feel like you've been there. Lois Lowry has an amazing ability for one liners like, "Every time you decide to lock yourself in a tower for the rest of your life, for pete's sake, the phone always rings!" and "He was standing in the middle of the room wearing nothing but underpants and a look of outrage." that stick with you and quickly become part of your family culture. The books are fun, light reads but readily lend themselves to rabbit trails on such diverse topics as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Walt Whitman, Verdi's Requiem and more.

They were published just a wee bit too late for me to enjoy them as a teen, although if I'd known about them when they came out I would have snuck them from the library or bookstore under the guise of an imaginary niece or an imaginary class on children's literature, but they still felt contemporary and edgy in the '00s so it was kind of a shock to reread them as "period pieces" like Laura and Mary or Betsy, Tacy, and Tib, but they seem to be holding up well, IMNSHO, as long as you don't mind stopping to explain some references to popular culture of the time, such as Kojak and Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator movie.

A few things to watch out for: you might want to skip Anastasia At This Address if you are uncomfortable with a storyline that involves the child answering a personal ad in the back of a magazine (spoiler alert: nothing bad happens) and Anastasia's little brother gets chicken pox in Anastasia On Her Own because they didn't have the vaccine yet, but it certainly isn't anti-vaxx.

I'll edit if I notice any others this read-through.

There are also spin-offs about Anastasia's little brother that are very enjoyable and have less teen content. They cover the same events but from the perspective of a profoundly gifted toddler (infant in the first part of the first Sam book) trying to understand us normals.

Topsy
05-23-2017, 09:17 PM
GREAT overview. I'll have to say I'm completely in the dark about this series so I'm thoroughly intrigued now!

farrarwilliams
05-24-2017, 11:09 AM
Gosh, I haven't thought of these books in eons. I did read them as a kid, though I'm not sure if I read them all. I think they were still coming out when I moved on to adult fantasy books in middle school. I think I had assumed they wouldn't hold up. But really, Lowry is a great author, so I can easily imagine they do. Thanks.

IEF
05-24-2017, 03:21 PM
We're on the one where Daphne's parents just got divorced and Anastasia is thinking about going into Journalism right now and I'm really thinking that this is going to be a wonderful original source document for my great-great-grands, Farrar. I know you have boys, but I think you'd really enjoy rereading them as an adult even if they are too girly for your sisterless kids.

I also like Johanna Hurwitz' Aldo series for the twentieth century, but YMMV; Aldo was probably the first vegetarian character to be portrayed in a positive light in children's literature so of course that colours my opinion and of course there are much, much better books out there now for vegetarian kids who are feeling a bit "weird" or lonely and needing a positive role model.

Johanna Hurwitz also writes about the same events from the very different perspectives of very different siblings. ds will probably want them after Anastasia since that's what we usually do and I'll try to review them then.

Topsy, thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I really do like you a lot as a person as well as the all powerful Admin, creator, and person who pays the bills and does the work to give us a safe place to meet each other and talk shop. Sometimes I worry that I don't add very much that is positive to direction you want to take SHS and wander off on rabbit trails too much.