Monday, December 13, 2004

The Star of Kazan

The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson, 2004
A story with jewels, horses, and fantastic food--a triple threat!

Ellie and Sigrid find an abandoned baby in a church and raise her with love in the household of three brilliant but dotty professors where they work as servants. Though happy in her life, Annika dreams the dream of all foundlings, that one day her missing mother will arrive and explain why she deserted her little daughter.

She has many friends including a lonely old lady who shares the story of her life through beautiful but seemingly worthless costume jewelry.

Annika has a gift for cooking and food is deliciously described in this story.

One day Annika's mysterious mother does show up. She seems to be everything Annika ever dreamed of and she sweeps her daughter off to a decaying and crumbling estate in Germany.

Compared to her simple life in Vienna where she was always warm and well fed, here the rooms are unheated and the food is served cold. Annika happily offers to help out but she is reminded she is now an aristocrat and may not cook or clean.Her only joy is working with the gifted groom, Zed, who cares for the one remaining horse on the estate.

Old Vienna is wonderfully described from the Lipizzaner horses to the Sachar tortes! Kevin Hawkes is the illustrator of choice now for Ibbotson's books.His fine detailed drawings throughout the story are a treat for the reader.

Like River to the Sea, this story is rich in atmosphere with great characters and a very exciting crisis and escape that satisfies completely, sort of like a bite of rich, chocolaty Sachar torte!

No comments: