DREAMING ANASTASIA- Joy Preble

Today I'm privileged to be a part of the blog tour for WAKING ANASTASIA, the debut novel by 2K9 author (and high school teacher!), Joy Preble.

Anne Michaelson is a typical Chicago high schooler-- she worries about getting into a good college, talks boys, boys, and more boys with her best friend Tess, and takes ballet lessons on the side. One day, she and Tess are at the ballet, and Anne notices a young man watching her. The next day, she sees him in a coffee shop, and discovers that Ethan is not just another high school hottie, instead he is Etanovich, an almost hundred-year-old Russian priest, living in the body of a high school boy. Ethan has spent decades searching for a young woman whom he believes is destined to unlock an mystery and free Anastasia, the only surviving daughter of the Romanov family, who was carried away by Baba Yaga, a famous witch from Russian folklore, on the night that Tsar Nikolas II and rest of the Romanov family were murdered. All of a sudden, Anne understands the feelings that she is someone else, the frightening dreams that have been waking her every night, and the weird electrical sensations coursing through her body…

This is terrific read. There are so many layers, so many ways readers could enter into this book. First, it's just a fun page-turner, with a hint of romance, a little teen age drama, and lots and lots of action. Second, it's a novel that will send kids off on journeys into Russian history and folklore-- I found myself wanting to know more about the Romanovs, and more about Baba Yaga and her hut in the woods. Finally, those literary and writerly types will want to read and reread to study how Preble uses Anne, Ethan, and Anastasia as alternating voices in different chapters, how she moves from setting, how she transitions in and out of dream sequences, and how she weaves Russian folklore and history throughout the book (the book kind of reminded me of SNOW IN AUGUST, one of my adult favorites). Wow, wow, wow!

For an interview of Preble, visit Shelf Elf. For a book giveaway, check out Presenting Lenore, and for a really fun interview of Ethan and Anne, go to The Shady Glade. You might also want to visit Joy's blog to see pictures of yesterday's book launch and signing at her local bookstore.

I'll definitely be passing this on to one of my sons' high school English teachers tomorrow…