Book Recommendation: The Star of Kazan
I recently had the pleasure of discovering a lovely children’s book, The Star of Kazan by the late Eva Ibbotson. It has been a while since I have read a book aimed at children, but Ibbotson’s 2006 offering left me feeling awe and delight, teleporting me back to my youth of reading Heidi by Yohana Spyri.
Precocious Annika is a foundling, as a baby, she is found by two maids in a church on an Australian mountaintop. “It was a lovely church – one of those places which look as though God might be about to give a marvellous party.” The maids decide to raise the child in the kitchens, in the home of their three employers, three delightfully eccentric professors. However, Annika’s normalcy is disturbed when her aristocratic mother decides to find her and takes her away in her country abode, shrouded with secrets.
Ibbotson masterfully captures the beauty of 1908 Vienna, especially in the first few chapters. She is a master of characterization and the characters are vivid and memorable, especially the maids and professors. Yet at the same time, the novel hints at England-based Ibbotson’s nostalgia for an earlier time and her motherland Austria. “The world was so beautiful in those days, Annika. The music, the flowers, the scent of pines…”
The novel is 380 pages, but it flows beautifully and it’s ideal for seasoned readers ages 10 to 14. Intrigued to read more of Eva Ibbotson’s work, especially her Y.A books. The Star of Kazan is a heart-warming , timeless story which takes me back to my own childhood. Instant classic!