At the prelude to the Trojan War, the cherished daughter of the chief of a tiny island is taken hostage. Later she plays a small but crucial role in the first few days of the epic war and makes peace with her stolen identity. In a starred review, PW said, "Cooney's trademark staccato narrative style gives the proceedings a breathless urgency." Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Cooney sets this story in the years just before the Trojan War. Six-year-old Anaxandra leaves her Aegean Sea home, taken by King Nicander to be a companion to his crippled daughter, Callisto. Six years later, pirates invade the island of Siphnos and kill everyone except Anaxandra, who was not in the palace. Convinced to do so by her goddess Medusa, she claims to be Callisto when Menelaus of Sparta happens upon Siphnos and rescues her. His wife Helen hates her, convinced that she is an imposter. When Paris comes to visit, Paris and Helen fall in love. They run off to Troy and take Anaxandra, thinking that she is Hermione, Helen's daughter. Convinced that Helen's and Paris's passions will cause a war and equally certain that her own actions will call the gods' anger upon her, Anaxandra searches for the true path to safety and to her own self. Anaxandra is realistically portrayed and interacts with characters known from the Illiad. Although not as richly textured as Adele Geras's Troy (Harcourt, 2001/VOYA June 2001), this book will appeal to younger teen readers. One does not need to know the story of the Trojan War to enjoy this book, but Cooney's afterword encourages more reading and gives brief background information. The great cover should give savvy readers the clue to the goddess of yesterday before they open the book. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Delacorte, 192p,
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2002: This is the most ambitious novel I have read by Cooney, known for her ever-popular works like the series that starts with The Face on the Milk Carton. In this, she mines the Trojan War characters and events, concentrating on Helen and Paris, as seen by a young girl, Anaxandra. Other major characters are those from the legend: Andromache and Hector, Menelaus, Cassandra; and the minor ones: King Priam, Agamemnon, and numerous others. One of the few made-up-by-Cooney characters is Anaxandra, and she serves as a dramatic narrator of events with an exciting life of her own. She meets the principal characters of the Trojan War when she is rescued by Menelaus and taken into his household. There she sees his wife, the beautiful Helen, as Helen and the visitor Paris fall in love and elope, taking Menelaus's treasure and his young son with them in an act of treachery. Anaxandra devotes her life to keeping the young prince, a two-year-old, alive. She accompanies the lovers to Troy and meets Paris's relatives, who include Hector and his fiancee Andromache, and their sister Cassandra, thought to be crazy. Through it all, she doesn't trust Helen to protect her own son; she certainly doesn't trust Paris, who actively tries to kill the little boy. Hector introduces her to horses; she loves Andromache and Cassandra; and although her loyalties first go to Menelaus and his little son, she also feels honor-bound to do nothing to betray Troy. It's an untenable position. Many teenagers are familiar with the setting and characters from reading The Iliad or The Odyssey for school assignments. This YA novel will make the ancient Greekworld more accessible to YA readers, even the tragic relationships that have been so familiar to so many through the millennia since Homer and the Greek dramatists put the oral tales into literary form. Cooney has done her research well for this purpose and even the title, altered to fit Anaxandra's needs, is taken from The Odyssey, spoken by Telemachus, who prays, "O God of yesterday, listen and be near me." An excellent, lengthy afterword helps readers place the characters and events in this novel into the context of Greek history and legend. Cooney's ability to create a character that will win over modern YA readers succeeds again with Anaxandra. (An ALA Notable Book for YAs.) KLIATT Codes: JS*-Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, Random House, Dell Laurel-Leaf, 263p. maps., Ages 12 to 18.
Gr 5-8-Anaxandra is six years old when she is taken as tribute by King Nicander. He is kindly toward her and takes her in to live with his own daughter, Callisto. Anaxandra leaves her former life behind, taking with her little more than her treasured statue of her patron goddess, Medusa. Then tragedy strikes-a band of pirates attacks her new home, and Anaxandra, hiding, is the only survivor. King Menelaus happens by soon after, and takes her to his island, thinking she is the Princess Callisto. His wife, Helen, does not believe this, and tries to prove it, but Anaxandra (now Callisto) becomes friends with Helen's children. When Paris arrives and takes off with Helen, "Callisto" protects her new friend by pretending to be Hermione, Helen's daughter, and is taken to Troy along with Helen's youngest son, Pleisthenes. Of course the ruse is later discovered, but not until they reach Troy, where Callisto determines to save Pleisthenes from certain death at the hands of Paris. Cooney has taken the basic facts of a well-known Greek myth and turned them into a grand adventure with a heroic girl at the center, creating a fictional situation and characters inside the known story. Lesser-known elements fill in her tale; the "Goddess of Yesterday" helps Anaxandra through many tough times, and Medusa in this form is the goddess of female wisdom. The characters, though many and varied, are complete and believable. A fine-tuned adventure that may leave middle-schoolers asking to read Homer.-Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Hillsboro, OR Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Anaxandra's adventures begin as a small child, when she is taken hostage from her father, the king of a tiny unnamed island in the Aegean Sea. She becomes the companion of the crippled princess Callisto of Siphnos. When that island is sacked, Anaxandra alone is left alive and she pretends to be Callisto in the eyes of Menelaus, who takes her back to Sparta. It is there that the girl, now 12, accomplished with a slingshot, and resourceful in many ways, meets Menelaus's queen, Helen. In Cooney's telling, Helen is an exquisite monster: so beautiful that people die for her; but cold, careless, and utterly self-involved. When the besotted Trojan prince Paris takes Helen off to Troy, Anaxandra assumes another identity, to protect her own life and that of Helen's youngest child. The gods and goddesses are very real to Anaxandra, whose prayers and beseeching are answered only occasionally. The full horrors of war and the brutality of even the noblest of lives in ancient Greece (although the land now known as Greece was many independent principalities then) are related in Anaxandra's perceptive voice, in a heightened language that seems natural for her. Characters from the Iliad, the Odyssey, and much of Greek tragedy make appearances in Anaxandra's tale, one that is as vivid as her red-gold hair. Teen readers will be mesmerized. (afterword) (Fiction. 12+)