British children’s book author Arthur Ransome captured Printz-winner Sedgwick’s (Midwinterblood) imagination with his 1916 book, Old Peter’s Russian Tales. These stories, coupled with Ransome’s involvement in the Russian revolution as a journalist, inspired this multifaceted historical novel, written in three parts and originally published in 2007. The first section sets the scene of the social and political landscape leading up to the revolution; Sedgwick uses vivid, fairy tale imagery to describe historical events, such as a bear that represents the growing discontent among the Russian populace (“The bear, which by now was as large as the cathedral on Catherine’s canal, rose on its hind legs.... As it fell, it came apart. It disintegrated. It fell like brown snow, but each flake was a person”). The rest of the novel, written in episodic vignettes, is more straightforward in painting a man whose attachment to Russia seemingly stems from the love of the woman who would eventually become his second wife. Sedgwick’s admiration for Ransome is clear from the outset and bolstered by appended notes about where the novel dovetails with and diverges from real-life history. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/08/2016 Release date: 10/25/2016 Genre: Children's
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