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Anastasia Krupnik: Being ten is no laughing matter.
on December 15, 2004
I read "Anastasia Krupnik: Being ten is no laughing matter," by Lois Lowry, to assist my daughter with her 7th grade language arts assignment. The book was very well written and enjoyable to read.
The story is set in Boston, Massachusetts, where ten-year-old Anastasia is struggling with an identity crisis, eccentric parents, and the pain of growing up an only child in a secular household. Her father is an English professor who writes poetry and her mother is an artist who forgets to do the laundry, which is why they both wear socks that don't match. Anastasia writes a poem without rhyme or meter and reads it to her class, but her teacher doesn't appreciate modern poetry; she gives her an "F" and tells her to follow the rules when writing poems. She has an on-again, off-again crush on a boy who doesn't like her, a grandmother who can't remember her name due to the onset of dementia, and a baby brother soon to be born: even her goldfish "blurps" at her from within the confines of its bowl.
At one point Anastasia decides to become Catholic, so she can change her name, but she soon changes her mind when she learns that stealing cupcakes from her friend is a sin and she will have to confess her sins to become a Catholic. Anastasia chronicles the significant events of her life in a green notebook, listing things she loves in one column and things she hates in another. Sometimes the things she hates become the things she loves and vice versa. By the end of the story, there remains only one item on the list of things she hates - liver - but the list of things she loves is long. The story is told with humorous effect, even though some of the things that happen are sad.
There are a few troublesome comments about her teacher's anatomy and conversations between Anastasia and her parents sometimes show a lack of discretion, but all things considered, it is the tender account of a prepubescent little girl with a prodigious intellect and an eagerness to learn and grow. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a coming-of-age story, but it will definitely hold your little girl's interest and in a subtle way, let her know that she is not alone in her quest to overcome life's many tribulations. It even has a happy ending to boot.