The magistrate’s message to Anya’s mother is clear: pay everything she owes on her home within 30 days or the village will take it away. Anya knows it’s an impossible task. Her father is away fighting the tsar’s war, and her mother and grandparents already spend all their time simply managing the household and bringing in meager wages. When a new family arrives seeking a dragon and willing to pay her to help them find it, Anya sees salvation for her family. What she doesn’t expect to find are two unlikely friendships, adventure, danger, and more.
Anya and the Dragon by Sofiya Pasternack is cute and funny while leading young readers on an adventure that includes a dragon and other magical creatures. Taking place in a folkloric Russian village, it weaves bits of historic conditions into a fantastical tale of good triumphing over evil.
Anya’s family is Jewish, and they have suffered persecutions from other villagers before settling where they now live. Her new friend Ivan comes from a family that entertains the tsar, and she’s not sure he can be trusted. And then there’s Hakon, a lonely young dragon who just wants friends to play with. Anya has to determine who to trust, where her loyalties lie, and how to untangle a list of problems that have no easy solution. The tale winds its way along a compelling path to a satisfying conclusion. I recommend Anya and the Dragon for mother-daughter book clubs and readers aged 9 to 12.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.