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Banned Books: Anastasia by Lois Lowry

28th Sep 2010

Anastasia Ask Your Analyst by Lois Lowry

Take, for example, the Anastasia series by Lois Lowry. A similarly bespectacled, bookwormish and overambitious child, when I discovered Anastasia at the local library during my primary school days, I was instantly intrigued. I was ten, the same age as Anastasia in the first book in the series, and, because I had one too, I empathised when she later acquired an adorable but frequently infuriating and attention-monopolising baby brother (readers loved Anastasia’s sibling, Sam, so much that he went on to star in his own series of books by Lois Lowry).

Throughout the entire series, which spanned from the publication of the first book, Anastasia Krupnik, in 1979, to the last instalment in 1995, Anastasia, Absolutely, our heroine is stubbornly independent and irrepressible. She has her own ideas and her own spin on each set of challenges in her day-to-day life, from coming up with some extra cash in Anastasia At Your Service to looking after her father and pox-riddled brother when her mother has to go away for work in Anastasia on Her Own. The books are insightful, comical, sweet and sincere, and even when Anastasia’s schemes collapse into confusion and chaos (occasionally necessitating parental intervention), the clear (but never patronising or intrusive) moral code to the stories meant things always work out in the end.

My favourite, Anastasia, Ask Your Analyst, is partly told through Anastasia’s notes for a school science project, in which she buys a bust of Freud at a garage sale and consults him on the various ups and downs of life for the Krupnik family. But for some over-protective parents, the rare instances of risqué language and references to pre-teen pressures to get up to adolescent-envying mischief such as stuffing bras were enough to warrant a campaign to get the books banned.

Although the series continues to be one of the ALA’s top 100 banned books of the last ten years, much of the outrage around Anastasia has mellowed; for the 1990-2000 list, the series was in the top 30. In the latest list from the last decade, they’ve been bumped to number 75. Without the werewolves, wizards or vampire sex so beloved by today’s teenage reader, Anastasia’s world seems like a far simpler time…

Post by Jane Bradley

Comments

  • Oddly enough, I started reading these again this Hangover Sunday. They are so clever and wonderful and I don’t see how they could ever be seen as threatening! Anastasia is a brilliant rolemodel for young girls… Bella has NOTHING on her.

    • Jane Bradley says:

      Thanks for the comment Stephanie – I would love to read them again to see how they’ve aged. I remember thinking they were the American equivalent to Jacqueline Wilson, and at that time there could have been no higher praise from me, so they obviously had quite an impact!

  • *love*

    My favourite was Anastasia’s Chosen Career where she went on a modelling course, but also interviewed the lady-owner of a bookshop called ‘Pages’. Many funnies. Can’t believe people could ever take agin Anastasia Krupnik!

  • I *loved* the Anastasia books. I remember all the girls in my primary school trading them. I even read a couple again while I was at Uni just so I could bathe in some nostalgia!

  • Kate Webster says:

    Just reading the words ‘Anastasia Krupnik’ brought back all sorts of warm & fuzzy memories of hunting down the next in the series at my local library and successfully finding it!
    Thank-you for reminding me of these books. I can’t wait to head back to the library again for another hunt, 20 years after I last read them 🙂

  • Jane Bradley says:

    Thanks for all the comments ladies, it’s a warm and fuzzy feeling indeed to know the love for Anastasia lives on all these years later!

  • BookElf says:

    Favourite series of books when I was about 11. Loved her. Still do. My favourite was the one with the gerbils, hilarious. Should def be re-released

  • Lindsay says:

    The only one I remember reading is Anastasia, Ask Your Analyst, but I’m amazed they were banned. How ridiculous! Although I just read that a dictionary has been banned somewhere in America because it has a definition of oral sex in it, which is truly frightening!!

  • Anna says:

    I just discovered these – in late middle age! I saw a reference to them online and searched them out. They are cute, almost innocuous, and perhaps my interest shows a hankering for the early, simple days of suburban childhood that I knew. I never had Anastasia’s presence of mind, or ability to reason out problems. I would love to see a book showing Anastasia now, as an adult – would love to know what ‘happens’ to her.

  • Diane says:

    I don’t remember these, and yet I know I read some Lois Lowry, so it’s possible I read them and forgot (!) Either way, sounds like I should read/re-read them. I love kids’ books from the 70s and 80s, and I was born in the same year as these were, so it’s like fate really.

  • Lizzi says:

    I adored Anastasia when I was younger! I can’t believe she was banned. Was she considered too modern? I remember liking that she asked questions about everything and she seemed very brave to me. Little girls should be reading her now!