"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Romanovs

I've also been learning about Anastasia, the last Grand Duchess, and her family.

I've been reading:

Anastasias's Album, The Last Tsar's Youngest Daughter Tells Her Own Story Anastasias's Album, The Last Tsar's Youngest Daughter Tells Her Own Story   by Hugh Brewster and photographer Peter Christopher. 1996.

This is a children’s book that anyone with an interest in the Romanov family and the youngest Grand Duchess will appreciate. Sixty three pages tell her story from 1901 to her presumed death in 1918. The stages of her life are explored in five chapters, giving information about Anastasia, her parents Czar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra, her sisters Olga, Tatiana, and Marie and her brother Alexei. Interesting quotes from letters, diaries and memoirs are included. Details of the family's lives combined with political woes of the times give readers a picture of a close and loving family destroyed by an unstoppable revolution. The epilogue talks about the mystery surrounding Anastasia, and Anna Anderson, who claimed to be Anastasia, but whose DNA has since proved that this was impossible.
 Each page is full of black and white photos of the imperial family and color photos of their palaces and possessions such as the children's toys, an aunt's ostrich feather fan, and a pink Faberge egg. Lovely hand decorated pages from Anastasia’s own album are featured, and the book's end papers match the pattern used in the Grand Duchess'. Also shown are drawings and sketches done by the family members. I enjoy seeing the pictures of the beautiful grand duchesses posing together in frilly dresses and pearls, striped bathing costumes or even bald but smiling after shaving their heads following an outbreak of measles. This title helps you to see the royal family as real people rather than simply victims of tragedy.

Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov (Snap) Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov (Snap) By Mary Englar, 2009. Part of Snap Books “Queens and Princesses” series.

Here Anastasia’s story is told for young readers in thirty two pages and five chapters. We are introduced to Anastasia marching in a spring parade. From there, Englar focuses on the details of her daily life as a Grand Duchess and young girl. Spectacular aspects such as her family’s seven palaces, their private train, yacht and jewels are described, as well as more common things like family time and vacations. The book is full of color and black and white photos. It is organized with a table of contents and an index and includes a glossary. Englar has also given suggestions for further reading and a link to Facthound.com, which will find age appropriate topic-related internet sites. I tried this out, and for K-5th graders, it suggested two websites and other books in the “Queens and Princesses” series.
Nicholas and Alexandra: The Family Albums Nicholas and Alexandra: The Family Albums by Prince of Greece, Michael, 1992.

At 240 pages, this is a more in-depth pictorial of the czar and his family. Like Anastasia’s Album, it is also set up by time period, covering from 1896-1903, “Marriage and Annointment as Tsar” through “Extract from ‘Original Protocol of Execution’ of the Romanov family.” The sixteen page introduction gives the reader background, and the remainder of the book provides black and white photographs with informative captions. I liked seeing the more playful photos, such as the Czar and his cousins goofily sticking out their tongues and Anastasia lying on a swing and pretending to levitate in addition to the more formal pictures. There some especially beautiful ones like a portrait from January 1903 of the Czar and Czarina wearing seventeenth-century Russian costumes, the couple with their first baby, Olga and numerous shots of the teenage Grand Duchesses wearing their elegant dresses. There is also a chapter about Rasputin’s influence, including photos of the empress and her children posing with him. The final section of the album has some haunting shots, such as Alexis playing with his spaniel, Joy, who later would accompany him to his execution.

And watching:

Anastasia Anastasia

Biography - Anastasia: Her True Story Biography - Anastasia: Her True Story

In Search Of History: Romanovs In Search Of History: Romanovs

More detail to come...