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Anya and the Dragon

(Anya #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,154 ratings  ·  261 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 394 pages
Published September 24th 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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DNF @ p. 220

Nobody can tell me that I didn't give ANYA AND THE DRAGON a fair shot. I valiantly struggled through 200+ pages of this book before deciding that it probably wasn't for me.

There are a lot of things that make this book seem promising: the beautiful cover, dragons, the Russian-Jewish culture, the background of oppression and potential for revolution. This book takes place in an alternative version of Europe where magic is ban
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
Anya and the Dragon was a lovely middle grade story with enough interesting elements to make it a great pick for kids to read with their parents.

I haven’t had a lot of patience for middle grade novels lately, but considering the premise and the fact that it got recognized at the ALA Media Awards, I decided to accept a review copy…

And I liked it. ^_^

It’s always fun to see different cultures represented in fantasy books, and I thought the author did an especially good job at immersing the reader i
Samantha Hastings
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full of wit, warmth, and adventure, this heartwarming fantasy is a must read!

What I loved 🖤🖤🖤:
1. Anya is only 11, but she’s strong and fearless. She’ll do anything to save her family.
2. Ivan comes from an entire family of Ivan’s (so many charming scenes) and is a smart and loyal friend. His family moves to town to capture the dragon for the Tsar.
3. The family dynamics. Babulya (grandma) with her forbidden magic and Dyedka (grandpa) with his animal magic. Her hardworking mama and her father who
Aimee Lucido
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is so much fun! I love the friendship between Anya and Ivan and the first time the dragon spoke I honestly teared up a little. This is such a gorgeous story of friendship and bravery and harnessing your power, and I loved every minute of it!
Kadi P
Jul 15, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This sounds pretty awesome and the cover is so beautiful but the mixed reviews make me a little wary... so it could go either way!

(Recommended by Matal Baker)
Crystal Smith
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amaaazing. Colorful and funny and full of fantastic details and so much heart. My kids and I read it together and loved every second of it! It has created something of a dragon fever at my house!
Belles Middle Grade Library
Apr 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I loved this SO much! Incredible story. 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. The aut ...more
Marcus Johnston
Jul 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Solid historical children's book, author really did her research, and it's a fun story. Dark at places, but hey... It's Russia in the 8th Century. What do you expect?! ...more
Sofiya Pasternack
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel19s
Rating is 5 stars for the goat and the goat alone.
Tina Athaide
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This debut middle grade novel by Sophia Pasternack is one you won’t want to miss and a great additional to school libraries and classroom libraries. It will spark imaginations.

From the start, Pasternack builds a fantasy world that is filled with struggles and challenges. Anya is the main character and war and magic have torn apart her family. The story is set in the 10th century in Eastern Europe, things get even harder for Anya's family when they are forced to pay a debt or leave their home.

Gail Shepherd
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Pasternack's debut middle grade fantasy is about as fresh and charming as they come--a reimagined Eastern European setting enlivened by many kinds of magic, a family of fools all named Ivan, and an adorable talking dragon you'd be happy to call your BFF. And did I say there are bad goats? And an irascible, chicken-sized household god? Malicious, eyeless water spirits yearning to drag people into the river depths? Pasternak has done her research in Slavic folklore and breathed new life into these ...more
Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
oh I loved this. I was curious how we were going to tackle being Jewish and in Russia and to my pleasant surprise...we didn't shy away from the history of anti-Semitism. I loved the community and the characters and the overall message while playing with dragons.

Rep: Russo-Jewish
Carolyn Klassen
Anya and the Dragon was totally enjoyable and fun. First off, I loved the blend of both Russian and Jewish folklore and culture. "There were some things more important than dragon hunting, and baking challah was one of them." With her friend Ivan, Anya hunts down a dragon to save her family from the anti-Semitic magistrate, but what she discovers is that the dragon is not the evil monster that she thought. And perhaps this is a metaphor that extends into larger themes of the book. With a cute, l ...more
Joe Kessler
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm really enjoying the recent trend of explicit Jewish representation in speculative fiction, and this new middle-grade fantasy novel is another fun example. The story is populated with all sorts of creatures from Slavic folklore, but the main conflict facing twelve-year-old Anya isn't a dragon; it's the antisemitic magistrate issuing bogus taxes to force her family off their land (which leads her to team up with a band of dragon-hunters to earn some reward money). The plot could have been tigh ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ahhhhh, I love this book so much! Maybe most of all because it might include one of my favorite dragons ever? But wait, there's more! I absolutely love all the Russian words and phrases and Jewish folklore included. This world has such richness, such flavor. And then of course there are the characters (beyond the dragon). Goats with personality, a loving farm family, an entire set of Ivans (!), some really terrible villains, and of course, Anya herself: brave, quick-thinking, and caring. One of ...more
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fun beautiful story about the power of friendship, the kindness of strangers, the power of faith (Judaism) and how goodness will always triumph over a grab for power. Anya is charming and delightful and I adored how she stood up to the men in the village. Her friendship with Ivan is wonderful and there is not only the best GOAT in this book but also the best dragon. Add to all of that a magic system that is fascinating, never heavy handed, and works so well to support the characters and their ...more
Jeanne Ferruolo
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love a story with a brave female protagonist--and Anya doesn't disappoint! This story is so unique in that it is set in eastern Europe, one of my favorite places in the world. The author does a wonderful job of bringing us there. A wonderful read-aloud for any classroom. ...more
Cass Moskowitz
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

I absolutely adored this story. What a wonderful blend of Jewish culture within a magical world. It felt familiar and mystical at the same time. This is one of those “wish I had books like this when I was younger” books.
R. G. Nairam
I was so excited when I heard about this book. It sounded like an amazing combination of Jewish culture, Russian/Jewish history, and folktales.

And maybe it is--but the plot doesn't serve it. It sets up and ends like it wants to talk about a lot more things--religious persecution in particular--but the middle is a slog of chase and action scenes that, most of the time, fundamentally don't result in significant change for the story or the plot when they end. Because of that, they feel repetitive a
Jacqueline Firkins
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a sweet, fun book that I think will delight its target audience. I could totally picture it being read aloud with all the voices and a few goat and chicken noises tossed in, too. It's packed full of Russian Jewish folklore, with interwoven tales of various spirits and domestic traditions. I think it's a great introduction to a culture kids may not be familiar with, braided with magic and folklore.

I love, love, love the cover, but it may mislead readers into thinking this is an epic adve
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, kids
“There were some things more important than dragon hunting, and baking challah was one of them.”

There is SO MUCH to love about this brilliantly realized, thoroughly unique story that brims with adventure and memorable characters—including a brave girl, a misunderstood dragon, and a highly entertaining goat. I found this book absolutely charming and know Anya will stay in my heart forever.
Rajani LaRocca
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fun fantasy debut about family, friendship, magic, and what is means to become a hero. Anya is a character to root for. I was immersed in the worldbuilding, and will never think about dragons or goats in the same way again!
Books That Burn
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anya and the Dragon is an upbeat fantasy story about friendship, magic, and figuring out how to do the right thing when everyone around you has a different idea of what that is.

I like almost all of this book but my one reservation is pretty major because it's a problematic moment which is unchallenged within the story. First, the things this did well. The MC feels like a kid, especially in the way that kids can feel like they're grown up even when they aren't. She's aware of the prejudices affe
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a fun middle grade read. It felt very magical, I mean who doesn't love a book about dragons!
Anya was an adorable main character, she starts out in a town where magic is forbidden. She finds out that because her family is Jewish, they will be losing their house, so when the fools come to town and tell her they will give her money to hunt one of the last dragons, she really just wants to help her family. Once Anya finds the dragon, she's not sure she can do that. Her journey to finding wh
Lauren Schnoebelen

Anya and her family have always stood out in their village since they are the only Jewish family in the community. When a family of fools come to town in search of a dragon, she realizes just how different they are. She’s grown up knowing about the magical creatures that live here but what she knows about them is completely different what the fools say they are. When her family is in desperate need of money, Anya decides to help the new comers find the dragon in hopes of saving everything
Misty Mount
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Anya and the Dragon by Sofiya Pasternack is a middle grade fantasy about a young Jewish girl and the hunt for a dragon.

This story had a strong blend of both Jewish an Russian culture and felt very metaphorical in nature. One thing I think it could have used was a glossary. There are so many Jewish and Russian words that aren't familiar to everyone and couldn't always be figured out through context. I think as a middle grade story especially it would have been a great teaching tool.

I was drawn in
Jun 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
WHAT an excellent book! From the cover, I was a little afraid it would be hokey and disney-fied, but to my delight it was grounded in actual cultures and heritages on top of being a fun fairy tale feeling story.
Anna Smithberger
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am so glad to have this book recommended to me. Great world building, great incorporation of Judaism into a historical fantasy. Characters I want to spend more time with! Excited for the rest of the series.
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-books
A great story about a young Jewish girl, a son of a fool, and a dragon. I loved the combination of folklore and Judaism, and the breadmaking scene is one of my favorites. Definitely recommend!
Anya and her family live on the outskirts of a small Russian village. Members of the family possess special abilities, but they can't be caught using them. When the magistrate demands a huge payment of taxes, Anya agrees to help hunt down a dragon believed to be living in the river that runs through the village.
A quick read, fun, great for middle readers.
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Sofiya Pasternack is a mental health professional, the highly-distractible author of Jewish MG and YA fantasy, and prone to oversharing gross medical stories. She enjoys speaking to crowds about writing and mental health. She does not enjoy running but she does it anyway. She is actually a gremlin in a bad wig.

Her upcoming middle grade fantasy, BLACK BIRD, BLUE ROAD, is all about death, demons, a

Other books in the series

Anya (2 books)
  • Anya and the Nightingale (Anya #2)

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