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The Star of Kazan

The Star of Kazan

4.6 16
by Eva Ibbotson, Kevin Hawkes (Illustrator)

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After twelve-year-old Annika, a foundling living in late nineteenth-century Vienna, inherits a trunk of costume jewelry, a woman claiming to be her aristocratic mother arrives and takes her to live in a strangely decrepit mansion in Germany.


After twelve-year-old Annika, a foundling living in late nineteenth-century Vienna, inherits a trunk of costume jewelry, a woman claiming to be her aristocratic mother arrives and takes her to live in a strangely decrepit mansion in Germany.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a starred review, PW wrote, "Although there are no ghosts at large, this fairytale-like novel set in Vienna during Franz Joseph's reign features the same unique blend of bigger-than-life adventure, sparkling wit and intricate plotting that characterizes Ibbotson's previous novels." Ages 8-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Ibbotson's marvelous dreams-come-true tale about the foundling Annika is really a love story in disguise. Between two people? No, between the author and her birthplace—Vienna, and the entire Austro-Hungarian Empire at the turn of the twentieth century. Who could resist the tortes and strudels eleven-year-old Annika lovingly learns to make under the tutelage of Ellie, her adopted mother? Who could resist the endearingly eccentric household of professors who take Annika in and gently educate her? Who could resist the descriptions of old Vienna's Prater Gardens, and the Lippizaners . . . . Yet wending its way through all this marvelous schlag is a plot about wicked birthmothers, and friends who yearn to break through boundaries set upon them by birth, and the rising militarism of the neighboring—and less genial—German Empire. Also wafting behind the scenes is one of Ibbotson's trademark ghosts—in this case the memory of "La Rondine," the ancient actress whom Annika befriends in the woman's fading days. It is impossible to describe the many threads that hold this book together. But it is a joy to read. Since the Newbery winner Kate Seredy described her beloved Hungarian puszta in the 1930s and 40s, no one has ever caught the flavor of this time and place as well. 2004, Dutton, Ages 8 to 12.
—Kathleen Karr
Annika is a foundling. Ellie, a cook, and Sigrid, a housekeeper, found the abandoned baby in a church and raised her in their warm and loving servants' quarters. For eleven years, Annika has grown up happy-learning to be a fine cook and roaming the streets of early twentieth-century Vienna with her friends-until the day that a fine lady, just like the one she has always dreamed about, steps out of a beautiful carriage and tells Annika that she is her long-lost mother. Going with her new mama to live at her family's ancestral home, Spittal, Annika tries to be happy, but all is not well at the crumbling old castle and Annika's friends in Vienna may be the only ones who can save her. Ibbotson's books are some of the finest imports from England. Writing here with her signature style-slightly creepy, but never enough to give the reader true nightmares, only a delicious shiver-her work is the best possible follow-up for younger middle school readers who loved Roald Dahl. Annika's story is not one of Ibbotson's fantasies, but is instead an engaging, page-turning, historical fiction that is highly recommended for all libraries. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2004, Dutton, 336p., Ages 11 to 14.
—Snow Wildsmith
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Abandoned as a baby, Annika is found and adopted by Ellie and Sigrid, cook and housemaid for three professors. Growing up in early-20th-century Vienna, she learns to cook and clean and is perfectly happy until a beautiful aristocrat appears and claims to be her mother, sweeping her off to a new life in a crumbling castle in northern Germany. Annika is determined to make the best of things, and it takes a while for her to realize that her new "family" has many secrets, most of them nasty. With the help of Ellie, Sigrid, the professors, and friends old and new, Annika escapes from a ghastly fate and learns to face the truth about her relatives. Winding like a braid through this story is a mystery involving a chest of worn costumes and junk jewelry left to Annika by an old woman she has befriended. This is a rich saga in the tradition of Frances Hodgson Burnett, full of stalwart friends, sly villains, a brave heroine, and good triumphing over evil. Annika's determination to do the right thing is both laudable and utterly frustrating, especially when readers realize that her loyalty is misplaced. Almost every character is distinct, but the ones that stand out are the "regular folk," individuals whose sense of decency propels them into amazing acts of courage. Vienna itself is colorfully portrayed, brimming with pastries, coffee, and dancing Lipizzaner horses. An intensely satisfying read.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ibbotson, master of the "poor orphan makes good" tale, offers another eminently satisfying example, this one wrapped in a valentine to Vienna, the author's natal city. Raised by servants to be "a person who was interested in doing things, not having them," 11-or-so-year-old foundling Annika sees a dream come true when lovely, regal Edeltraut von Tannenberg appears at the door one day, joyously announcing that she's her real mother. Blinded by adoration, Annika barely notices how badly in need of repairs is her fortress-like new home, or how poorly she fits in with her spoiled and predatory new "family." Readers will, though, as piece by piece, the author reveals an elaborate, clever fraud involving faked documents, smoothly plausible lies, and a hoard of supposedly imitation jewelry that Annika has inherited from an elderly neighbor. Creating suspense by letting readers into the scheme long before Annika and her friends, Ibbotson also paints a vivid picture of pre-WWI Vienna, from its delectable pastries to the famed show horses of the Spanish Riding School. Along with this beguiling atmosphere and expertly developed plot, readers will long remember the admirable Annika and cheer her eventual, well-deserved, triumph. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 10-13)
From the Publisher
“Ibbotson, master of the ‘poor orphan makes good’ tale, offers another eminently satisfying example… [R]eaders will long remember the admirable Annika and cheer her eventual, well-deserved, triumph.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.84(w) x 8.56(h) x 1.32(d)
880L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“Ibbotson, master of the ‘poor orphan makes good’ tale, offers another eminently satisfying example… [R]eaders will long remember the admirable Annika and cheer her eventual, well-deserved, triumph.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Meet the Author

Eva Ibbotson, born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner (21 January 1925 - 20 October 2010), was an Austrian-born British novelist, known for her children's books. Some of her novels for adults have been successfully reissued for the young adult market in recent years. For the historical novel Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan, 2001), she won the Smarties Prize in category 9-11 years, garnered unusual commendation as runner up for the Guardian Prize, and made the Carnegie, Whitbread, and Blue Peter shortlists. She was a finalist for the 2010 Guardian Prize at the time of her death. Her last book, The Abominables, was one of eight books on the longlist for the same award in 2012.

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The Star of Kazan 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book has become one of my best reads. it is so heart warming from the very beginning, that you can't leave it till you read it all. Annika is a foundling who has been brought up by two servants, Ellie and Sigrid. She dreams of her real mother arriving to claim her, which really happens in the due course. but liitle does she know that she is being cruelly robbed of her priceless possessions, which are left to her by an old lady.finally, the truth is uncovered and annika's well-wishers and friends save her life. it is a must- read for all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Many of the reading suggestions for fifth- and sixth-graders at our school were written twenty or thirty years ago but Star of Kazan is recent, written in 2004. It takes place in Vienna, Austria at the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Young Annika, a foundling taken in by servants in a well-to-do home, dreams of the day that her true mother reclaims her.
MindySJB More than 1 year ago
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I wish I would have discovered Eva Ibbotson when I was in grade school! She weaves the most beautiful tales of friendship and family, with excellent doses of mystery and deceit thrown in to keep the reader guessing. Her tales remind me of A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnette. Before that last comment leads you to think Ibbotson only writes for girls, my boys both enjoyed Star of Kazan and Dragonfly Pool and wouldn't think of Ibbotson as only a "girls' author."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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bear123 More than 1 year ago
This book takes you to a whole different world, new levels, and fun twists and turns! This book is definitrly one of my favorites!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
to start with, it was my daughter's class book club assigned book, library ran out ot the book but they offered CD instead. We started listening in the car and just hooked on it. It even made my chaotic morning easier. In mornings, she would just jump in car and wait for me to start car and put the book on. It was great. with no time we already at school. And we loved the story. the book well spoken.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My sister-in -law is a librarian for a school and each summer reads hundreds of books, and she suggested reading this book and I found it delightful to read and hoped it would continue. C.S.Lewis said if a book is really good it will be enjoyed by both an adult and a child, well this one fits. I am in my 50s and my mom is in her 70s and I gave it to a friend who is 16 and we all enjoyed it. In the book Ellie is a cook and Sigrid as a housemaid and they find a baby in a small white church in the mountains with a note pinned on, and so begins the story of little Annika. Try it, you will like it.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very good. It has suspense, when you are waiting for Annika to relize that she is being lied to. I really think Mrs. Ibbotson did a great job.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Eva Ibbotsons' books whether it be ghosts and witches, or a trip down the amazon she is a great writer and when I read The Star of Kazan I wanted to scream out my excitment! Over all this is one of her best books ever!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't think I was going to like it when I read the back cover, but I was wrong. It was a pretty good book after all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the second Eva Ibbotson book I've read, and It just amazed me. I am a bookworm, and I've learnd that the ol' 'don't judge a book by it's cover' thing isn't always that true... but WOW! This really exceeded my expectations. I really recognized a lot of the characters as some of my own freinds and relatives, others as the voices inside me. I hung to the book, page by page, bareley stopping 'til I was through. At each new turn of the tale, I Held my breath, gasped, or let out a sigh of releif as the text required. O, how I love this book... may it be treasured for years to come!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have grown up reading children's books (I'm currently in college) and since working at B&N I have been introduced to some amazing new works in this genre. I firmly believe that some of the best fiction today is being written for children, and this particular book has handily affirmed that view. This is the beautifully written story of Annika, a girl who was abandoned as an infant in a Vienna church and adopted by two servants in the home of three kind professors. The story is essentially a mystery in which readers are presented with many beguiling and unsettling clues about Annika's new life when her mother comes to claim her. I was enraptured by the characters, the plot, and the descriptions of Vienna. Ibbotson perfectly describes the charm of this European cultural center, and I found myself wishing that I was there! It's a lovely book, and I reccomend it to children and adults alike.