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Anya and the Dragon
by Sofiya Pasternack
Versify, $16.99 HB, $9.99 Kindle, 416pp
Published: September 2019

Age Range: 10 - 12 years
Grade Level: 5 - 7

This lush tale of magic and dragons is a gem for any adventure-seeking middle grader and perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time.

Anya and the Dragon is the story of fantasy and mayhem in tenth century Eastern Europe, where headstrong eleven-year-old Anya is a daughter of the only Jewish family in her village. When her family’s livelihood is threatened by a bigoted magistrate, Anya is lured in by a friendly family of fools, who promise her money in exchange for helping them capture the last dragon in Kievan Rus. This seems easy enough, until she finds out that the scary old dragon isn't as old—or as scary—as everyone thought. Now Anya is faced with a choice: save the dragon, or save her family.

Set in an alternate Russia in a time of superstition, magic and absolute rulers, Anya must find a way to save her family home.  She meets a new boy in the village, Ivan, and agrees to help his father find a dragon so she can earn the money needed to pay the taxes and save her home. As she learns more about dragons and magic she is torn between saving her home or saving the dragon.

The characters are all well drawn and the story will appeal to adults as well as the younger target audience. A sequel will be published in November and I look forward to reading more of Anya’s adventures. ~~ Stephanie L Bannon

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