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The Star of Kazan Hardcover – October 7, 2004

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 880L (What's this?)
  • Series: Booklist Editor's Choice. Books for Youth (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; First Edition, First Printing edition (October 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525473475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525473473
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,612,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5-8–Abandoned as a baby, Annika is found and adopted by Ellie and Sigrid, cook and housemaid for three professors. Growing up in early-20th-century Vienna, she learns to cook and clean and is perfectly happy until a beautiful aristocrat appears and claims to be her mother, sweeping her off to a new life in a crumbling castle in northern Germany. Annika is determined to make the best of things, and it takes a while for her to realize that her new "family" has many secrets, most of them nasty. With the help of Ellie, Sigrid, the professors, and friends old and new, Annika escapes from a ghastly fate and learns to face the truth about her relatives. Winding like a braid through this story is a mystery involving a chest of worn costumes and junk jewelry left to Annika by an old woman she has befriended. This is a rich saga in the tradition of Frances Hodgson Burnett, full of stalwart friends, sly villains, a brave heroine, and good triumphing over evil. Annika's determination to do the right thing is both laudable and utterly frustrating, especially when readers realize that her loyalty is misplaced. Almost every character is distinct, but the ones that stand out are the "regular folk," individuals whose sense of decency propels them into amazing acts of courage. Vienna itself is colorfully portrayed, brimming with pastries, coffee, and dancing Lipizzaner horses. An intensely satisfying read.–Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 4-8. Ibbotson's latest is a galloping historical novel set in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Abandoned as an infant, 12-year-old Annika lives in Vienna with the cook and housemaid who discovered her as well as their employers, a sibling trio of eccentric professors. Annika helps with the housework and grows up comfortably in the warm house on a beautiful square, surrounded by friends. Still, Annika dreams of reuniting with the unknown parents who abandoned her, and when an elegant, charismatic woman appears, birth certificate in hand, Annika embraces her as her long-lost mother and agrees to move to the family's remote northern castle. The grand estate isn't what she expected, though, and she fights waves of homesickness as troubling clues begin to emerge about her new family. Ibbotson leads her characters through a delightful, breathless adventure that skillfully enfolds deliciously cruel villains, crumbling aristocratic families, stolen jewels, and a cast of lovable, intrepid professors and children determined to rescue Annika from danger. Viennese-born Ibbotson layers her suspenseful story with exquisite details that contrast the city's cozy clamor with the bone-chilling northern landscape, beautifully echoing Annika's plight. Masterful entertainment in the tradition of Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1962), this will please Harry Potter readers, too. Hawkes' lively black-and-white drawings extend the adventure and nostalgic flavor. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

My daughter read this for a class.
C Maz
The tale is well-crafted, full of rich detail and interesting characters, with the luscious yet unexpected flavor of mystery!
Heidi Dewey
The end is very surprising, but very good.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Some children's books read like your standard kiddie fare. A mystery here, an intriguing character there, mix it altogether and phoomp! One piece of child fiction for general consumption. There are other children's books in the world, however, that resemble nothing so much as sumptuous feasts. Books that you'd swear had more in common with three act plays and bewitching flights of fancy than you'd find in something like, "How To Eat Fried Worms". You read one of these books, you finish it, and you scratch your head wondering how the English-speaking/reading children of the world lucked out to have THIS kind of book on their library and bookstore shelves. Prior to this title, Eva Ibbotson was a kind of British pre-J.K. Rowling fantasy author. Her books (like "The Island of the Aunts" and "Which Witch") were sweet but not particularly entrancing. She treated her fantasy in an offhand kind of way. As if ghosts and mermaids and selkies were only vaguely interesting characters to come and go as they pleased. It seems obvious now that she's been toiling in the wrong genre. "The Star of Kazan" marks yet another Ibbotson foray into a fantastical world that's almost too interesting to call historical fiction, but too informative to be relegated as anything else. It is, without a doubt, her finest work put to paper.

Annika has a daydream that's been hers and hers alone for years. Found as an orphan in a deserted church, Annika dreams of someday meeting her real mother. A mother who's rich and elegant and smells nice. Not that the girl has a bad life of it. She was adopted early on by a pair of servants who work for three neurotic professors in the heart of Vienna. Annika loves her life, and has grown to be quite an accomplished cook.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By LonestarReader VINE VOICE on December 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A story with jewels, horses, and fantastic food--a triple treat!
Ellie and Sigrid find an abandoned baby in a church and raise her with love in the household of three brilliant but dotty professors where they work as servants. Though happy in her life, Annika dreams the dream of all foundlings, that one day her missing mother will arrive and explain why she deserted her little daughter.

She has many friends including a lonely old lady who shares the story of her life through beautiful but seemingly worthless costume jewelry.

Annika has a gift for cooking and food is deliciously described in this story.

One day Annika's mysterious mother does show up. She seems to be everything Annika ever dreamed of and she sweeps her daughter off to a decaying and crumbling estate in Germany. Compared to her simple life in Vienna where she was always warm and well fed, here the rooms are unheated and the food is served cold. Annika happily offers to help out but she is reminded she is now an aristocrat and may not cook or clean. Her only joy is working with the gifted stable boy who cares for the one remaining horse on the estate.

Old Vienna is wonderfully described from the Lipizzaner horses to the Sachar tortes! Kevin Hawkes is the illustrator of choice now for Ibbotson's books. His fine detailed drawings throughout the story are a treat for the reader.

Like "River to the Sea," this story is rich in atmosphere with great characters and a very exciting crisis and escape that satisfies completely, sort of like a bite of rich, chocolaty Sachar torte!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on June 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
My name is Miranda and I'm seven years old. My mom reads me tons of books and we listen to lots of books on tape, and this book is defenitely one of my favorites. My mom read this book to me and we both absolutely loved it. Now my older sister is reading it and so far she loves it as well. All the characters are people you can relate to. Each one of them is so different and unique from the others. At the end of the book you feel as if the characters are real live people you know. The characters are what makes the book five stars. Other favorite books of mine that I reccomend are: "Dragon Rider", "A Single Shard", and "Montmorency". Thanks! (Hope you enjoy the book!)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Robinson on July 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson is a wonderful old-fashioned story. The cover of the edition that I read includes a NY Time blurb "with echoes of Frances Hodgson Burnett." Perhaps it was the power of suggestion, but I could really see these echoes myself (particularly of "The Secret Garden").

The Star of Kazan tells of Annika, an early 20th century foundling discovered as an infant by the housemaid and cook for a family of Viennese professors (three eccentric siblings). Annika is raised like a daughter by the housemaid and cook (Sigrid and Ellie), and gradually comes to be treated as a niece by the three professors. She works as a servant for them (expected to make herself useful), but also receives Christmas gifts, and a special treat every year on her "Found Day." Annika is also much beloved by her friends from the neighborhood, especially the timid bookworm Pauline and the stalwart Stefan, middle child in a large, struggling family of boys. Annika even befriends the elderly aunt of her wealthy neighbors, offering friendship and attention to a very lonely woman. All in all, Annika has a happy, contented life, secure in her place in the world.

However, Annika has one weakness. She fantasizes repeatedly about the mother who gave her up at birth, imagining her mother appearing on the doorstep and loving her. And lo and behold, one day a grand and beautiful lady appears, and says the magic words "my darling, darling daughter--have I really found you at last!" She whisks Annika away to Northern Germany to the family estate, a crumbling moated castle fallen recently on hard times. There Annika meets her spoiled half-brother Hermann, her self-effacing cousin Gudrun, and the half-gypsy stableboy, Zed. And that's where her adventures really begin.
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