Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Anastasia, Absolutely

By Lois Lowry. Published 1995.

Anastasia got a dog! Yay! But this means she has to walk him every morning! Boo! The very first morning, the as-yet-unnamed dog gets her up at 6a.m. As they head out, Anastasia grabs some illustrations of Awesome Mom’s to mail, and the plastic bag from the newspaper. When the time comes to actually use said plastic bag, Anastasia is super embarrassed, does the job, and gets all flustered, because there’s a grumpy looking man watching her. She hastily mails Awesome Mom’s stuff, and heads home. Along the way, she thinks about a new class she has to take, called Values. Their first assignment is to answer how they’d react to certain ethical situations. Anastasia thinks she’s wishy-washy, because she can’t answer things in a black-or-white way. While she’s thinking about this, she notices the dog having to stop and sniff at everything, so she decides to call him Sleuth.

In her Values class that day, they talk about whether or not to smash a groundhog with a rock that is eating a garden that could feed an entire family for a year. But mainly people are telling various groundhog stories. Anastasia is bored, but enjoys looking at her teacher, Mr. Francisco, because he’s young and handsome.

At lunch, Anastasia is telling her friends about Sleuth. They tell her how later in the morning there was a bunch of police on the street where she walked Sleuth. It didn’t look like anything very exciting, though.

At home, Anastasia throws trash away in the garbage can in the garage. Something feels funny to her about the can, though. She tries to remember the last thing she threw away in there. It was the plastic bag from that morning. Something still feels off, so she goes to investigate.  Oh shit, y’all. There, in the garbage can, are Awesome Mom’s illustrations Anastasia had supposedly mailed that morning.

Anastasia runs to mail them, thinking all the way about what she must have actually mailed instead. She starts worrying that she’s tampered with the mail, and committed a federal offense. When she reaches the corner, the mailbox is no longer there.

Anastasia struggles with her problem all throughout the next day. Should she confess or should she not? She thinks she probably should, but if she did, who would feed Frank or walk Sleuth? And she and her friends are going to rent a movie the next day. Who would return the movie if she got arrested before she could do it? But she is a person with values, and confessing is the right thing to do. So she decides to confess, just not yet.

Mr. Francisco asks Anastasia to stay after class one day. Anastasia asks if it’s because she’s continued to be so wishy-washy in her answers. He says no, in fact he’s been impressed with her responses, it shows critical thinking. No, he’s just noticed she seems down and different lately, and he wonders if there’s anything wrong. She admits there is; she’s done something, something illegal. But she’s decided she’s going to go home and confess that afternoon. Mr. Francisco says she’ll probably feel better, and be back to smiling the next day.

Anastasia finally works up the nerve to call the post office. She talks to a nice lady who doesn’t exactly understand what Anastasia wants. She tries to explain how she put something awful into the mailbox. Then she sees Sam has come in the room. She tries to get him out, but he won’t leave. So she tells the lady she’ll call back, and hangs up. She finally gets to Sam to start to leave, but he asks what awful thing she put in the mailbox. So she has to keep him in there, and fill him in on the secret. He thinks it’s absolutely hilarious. Anastasia calls the post office back, and asks to speak to the head guy. When she is connected with him, she confesses she tampered with the mail. She tells him the date and the location of the mailbox, and he stops her, tells her not to say anything else, and says someone will be right over. She’s annoyed he wouldn’t just take her confession over the phone. A little while later, two police cars show up.

Well, they don’t arrest Anastasia, at least. The policemen listen to her story, and believe her. Then they explain why they’ve taken this so seriously. There has been someone placing bombs in mailboxes in and around Boston. Yes…attempted Boston bombings. Weird, and bit uncomfortable.

But this bomber doesn’t appear to be very good. Every attempted bomb has failed. One almost succeeded, but didn’t, because a bag of dog poop placed on it smothered it.

That evening, Awesome Parents tell Anastasia this is exactly the type of thing she needs to tell them. She says she felt dumb. They tell her the only thing worse than feeling dumb and scared is feeling dumb, scared, and alone. Totes true, Awesome Parents. Sam argues that the very worst thing is having your face near the wrong end of a dog, and him farting. They all agree, that is indeed the very worst thing.

Anastasia has to go to the police station to tell them more. She is able to tell them everyone she saw on the street that day, but none of them could have done it. Then they ask her to look at some pictures of fired mailmen, who might have a grudge against the postal service. She does in fact recognize one guy, it’s the grumpy guy she saw that morning. She’s able to tell them what he wearing that day. Yay, Anastasia, you’re a fucking hero!

This is the last of the Anastasia books. It’s not the end of the Krupniks, though. Sam has a four book series himself. However, I don’t think I’m going to cover them. I never read them when I was younger, and they seem to be aimed at a lower reading level than I usually do. However, if you can’t quite bear to let the Krupniks go, and think I should give it a shot, let me know.

o   Sleuth knows that Anastasia putting on her glasses is the signal that it’s time to exit her room. My dog knows the exact same thing.


  1. I don't know if I've ever commented here before but pleeeease do the Sam books!

    1. Well, how can I say no to that? Ok, Sam coming up.

  2. Yes, yes the Sam books please!!