I read a lot of children’s books, when I say children’s books I don’t mean Doctor Seuss or picture books, I mean books that fit under the “Junior Fiction” section. In fact when I go to the library its not unusual to see me in the Children’s room, hunched over a shelf picking out books. Why do I read children’s novels? Well, there are two reasons, one: I don’t think stories have an age limit. I have found if I stuck to the recommended ages on the back of books, I would miss out on so many fabulous stories. (Percy Jackson is recommended for 9-12). My other reason is sometimes it’s nice to read a story that is pared to down to something simple. That just gets the point across without a lot of intrigue or words. That is what I feel about this book, Angel in the Square by Gloria Whelan.
Summary: In Russia of 1912, Katya lives the most luxurious life. She is the daughter of a Countess and lives in a mansion in St. Petersburg. Despite what her close revolutionary friend Misha tells her, she is completely blind to all of the problems in the country. Her life changes when her mother tells her she was asked to be a Lady in Waiting to the Empress Alexandra. Katya was asked to come along as a companion for the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Katya and her mother move to the Alexander Palace and live side by side with the Romanov family. Katya and her mother become like family to the Romanovs, the duchesses become like her sisters. Slowly Katya begins to see the plight of the troubled country. She stays loyal to the Royal family through all of it, from when the Tsar is forced to abdicate, to when they are exiled to Siberia, to the when the family is taken away. Through Katya’s eyes you see the sad tale of Russian Revolution, the rise of Communism and the fall of the Romanov family.
“I have seen much suffering in Russia” I said. “and I know there must be changes, but I love the Imperial family like they are my own.”
Review: I loved these books as a child, I named one of my dolls Katya and I’m pretty sure Misha was my first fictional crush. When I read them last month, I saw them through very different eyes. I know so much more about the history now then I did when I was eight or nine and the story takes on a much more serious tone. The doesn’t deeply go into the details, but it doesn’t have to, it illustrates the despair of both the Royal family and the people of Russia in few words. This children’s novel made me cry. The story is beautifully but simply written, and it’s a true, historically accurate story. It is definitely a favorite of mine.
“I thought I understood what was best for Russia. I knew to little and believed too soon.”
You probably will like this book if:
- You Russian history or WWI history.
- You like short simple writing.
- You want to read a touching, sad story.
You probably won’t like this book if:
- You want a book with lots of detailed history
- You have no interest in a Junior fiction novel
Do like reading “Children’s books?
Are interested in Russian history?