Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lara's Gift, by Annemarie O'Brien - engrossing historical fiction (ages 10-14)

The best historical fiction sweeps me up and transports me to another world. With Lara's Gift, Annemarie O'Brien carried me away to tsarist Russia, to the life of a young girl living on a nobleman's rural estate helping to raise famous Borzoi hunting dogs. This novel will engross children who love historical fiction, especially those who connect to characters trying to stand up for themselves.
Lara's Gift
by Annemarie O'Brien
Alfred A. Knopf / Random House, 2013
your local library
*best book of the year*
Young Lara dreams of becoming the next kennel steward, following in her father’s footsteps raising prestigious borzoi dogs on Count Vorontsov’s countryside estate.

When her mother has a newborn son, Lara is caught between honoring her family’s traditional values and her own dreams. Suddenly Lara’s father suggests that she should stop spending time with her beloved dogs and learn skills that would be more useful in finding a husband.

Lara has a deep connection to the borzoi, especially her beloved Ryczar, and will go to great lengths to protect them - especially against ferocious wolves. Readers will be swept along by the challenges Lara faces as she struggles to convince her father that she should be able to become the next kennel steward, raising borzoi dogs worthy of the Tsar.

This book trailer gives you a sense of the setting, suspense and characters in this engrossing story:

O'Brien with her borzoi
In her debut novel, Bay Area author Annemarie O’Brien takes readers into the world of a Russian noble estate in 1914. O’Brien weaves in many historical, cultural and linguistic details to create a fully realized setting, without overpowering the story.

A sample preview of Lara's Gift is available through Google Books. Right from the beginning, I was immersed in Lara's life on a rural Russian noble estate caring for her beloved dogs.

I was especially interested in O'Brien's author’s note providing interesting background on her interest in borzoi dogs, Count Vorontsov’s famous kennel, and other historical aspects of this story. Readers will get a full sense of her appreciation of both the Russian culture and the wonderful borzoi dogs.

The review copy was originally received through ACL, the Association of Children's Librarians of Northern California, where I originally published this review, and subsequently also sent by the publishers, Random House. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

No comments:

Post a Comment