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Monday, July 14, 2014

The Family Romanov Blog Tour {Guest Post & Giveaway}

I'm thrilled to have The Family Romanov Blog Tour stopping by today! Author Candace Fleming is here with a great Guest Post and you can enter the awesome Giveaway to win a copy of this fascinating middle-grade historical biography of your own...

The Family Romanov:
Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall Of Imperial Russia
by Candace Fleming
July 8, 2014
Random House Kids
ages 9-12

From the acclaimed author of Amelia Lost and The Lincolns comes more nonfiction at its very best—and a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards.
Here is the riveting story of the Russian Revolution as it unfolded. When Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared to do so. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew. 
Deftly maneuvering between the lives of the Romanovs and the plight of Russia’s peasants—and their eventual uprising—Fleming offers up a fascinating portrait, complete with inserts featuring period photographs and compelling primary-source material that brings it all to life. History doesn’t get more interesting than the story of the Romanovs.

Top Ten Facts About The Romanovs
by Candace Fleming

Just ten favorite facts about the Romanovs?  It’s so hard to choose!  There’s so much about them that sparks my curiosity; so much that breaks my heart.  Still, without further ado, and in no particular order are ten intriguing moments drawn from their lives:
Fact #1:  Nicholas and Alexandra fell in love when Alix was very young.  Just twelve years old when she arrived in Russia for a family wedding, she was swept off her feet by the dashing, sixteen year old future tsar.  The couple spent four blissful days at Peterhof, rambling through the gardens and picking flowers.  They even used one of their diamonds to scratch “Alix, Nicky” on a windowpane.  Before she left, Nicky tried to give her a jeweled brooch.  Alix refused it because she was sure her grandmother, Queen Victoria, would disapprove.   She did, however, leave with his heart.
Fact #2:  Nicholas II was a chain smoker.  He smoked cigarettes made especially for him by Benson & Hedges.  Each was stamped with the imperial crest – a gold, double-headed eagle. Even while in captivity in Tobolsk, his friends managed to send him these fancy cigarettes.  But by the time he arrived in Ekaterinburg, he was forced to beg his captors for the cheap tobacco rolled in cardboard tubes that they smoked.  It’s been said that going without cigarettes was one of worst hardships he suffered there.
Fact #3:  One might think the Romanovs spoke and wrote to each other in Russian.  But they didn’t.  Because Alexandra never managed to fully grasp the language, husband and wife communicated in English.  (She also spoke French and her native language, German). This continued after the children were born.  Why not use one of Alix’s other languages?  Because speaking German in the tsar’s household would have been considered inappropriate while French was reserved for the language of the court.
Fact #4:  Alexandra believed in mystics long before the arrival of Rasputin.  In fact, before the infamous monk arrived at the palace, another charlatan had been welcomed – “Dr” Philippe.  Philippe claimed he could heal the sick by chanting, predict the future by praying, and make himself invisible just by donning a magic hat.  Desperate for a male heir after giving birth to three daughters, Alexandra turned to this French mystic.  Secretly meeting with him, she underwent a “moral examination” by peering deep into his eyes for a few seconds.  Philippe declared her next child would be a boy… if she partook of his “astral medicine.”    Alexandra eagerly followed his instructions.  She prayed for hours on end, forced down glassfuls of bitter herbal concoctions and bathed in the moonlight on what  “Dr.” Philippe called “astrologically auspicious nights.”  And was her next child a boy?  No.  Six months later she gave birth to Anastasia.
Fact #5:  Nicholas loved wearing uniforms and he owned several hundred of them.  Each came complete with matching sabers, sashes, hats and medals.  Every morning a servant whose only job was to keep track of which accessories went with which uniform laid out all the appropriate pieces.  Nicholas’ dresser would help him into this costume after his morning bath.
Fact #6:  Even though Nicholas was the richest man on the planet, owning one-sixth of the world’s land mass, he gave his children just nine dollars a week in allowance.  Out of this they were expected to buy themselves little luxuries like notepaper and perfume, as well as purchase any presents they wanted to give.  Who did the kids buy for?  Their guards – the Cossacks of the tsar’s escort, and the sailors on the imperial yachts.  In their isolation, the children turned to these people for friendship.  The grand duchesses, as well as Alexei, not only knew the names of the men who guarded them, they also knew the names of the men’s families.  Talking freely, the kids listened to stories of the men’s home lives and looked at photographs of their wives and children.  They formed close attachments to their guards, and generously spend their little bit of pocket money on them.
Fact #7:  The Romanovs third daughter, Marie, was incredibly strong.  As a small child she could lift her male tutors clear off the ground.  She most likely inherited this strength from her grandfather, Tsar Alexander III, who was so strong he could bend iron pokers and twist silver forks into knots.  Marie had another unusual ability, too.  She could paint a picture with her left hand while writing a letter with her right!
Fact #8:  The heir to the throne, Alexei, had atrocious table manners.  He wouldn’t sit up, chewed with his mouth open, licked his plate and teased the dinner guests.  One of his favorite table tricks was rolling pieces of bread into pellets, and shooting them into the guests’ soup.  Once he crawled under the table and snatched a slipper off a female visitor’s foot.  Nicholas commanded his son to return it.  Alexei did, but not until he’d stuffed a big, juicy strawberry into the shoe.  Then he smashed it back onto her foot.   The guest screamed.  Alexei was banned from the dining room for a week.
Fact #9:  The Romanovs loved animals and kept a curious assortment at Tsarskoe Selo.  Among them was Vaska the cat and Ortipo, a French bulldog who slept so soundly he kept the girls up at night.  There was Vanka, a trained donkey from an Italian circus who snuffled through the children’s pockets for treats and the rubber balls he like to chew on.  There was an elephant with its own stable (a gift from the King of Siam), two llamas, and a mouse that lived in Marie and Anastasia’s room.  There was also parrot that resided – of all places – in the tsar’s bathroom.  And there was a King Charles spaniel who earned the nickname “rascal” because he did his “governor-general” on the carpets.  The girls’ parents gave them a silver scoop and shovel with which to clean it up.
Fact #10:  After the Romanov’s murder, an icon was found in the rooms in which the family had been held.  On the back in Olga’s hand was written the following prayer.  Whether she wrote it herself, or copied it from someplace else is not known, but it must have reflected her feelings during the last days of her captivity:
Give Patience, Lord to us, Thy Children,
In these dark stormy days to bear
The persecution of our people,
The torture falling to our shores.
Give strength, Just God, to us who need it,
The persecutors to forgive,
Our heavy, painful cross to carry
And Thy great meekness to achieve.
When we are plundered and insulted,
In days of mutinous unrest
We turn for help to Thee, Christ Savior,
That we may stand the bitter test.
Lord of the word, God of creation,
Give us Thy blessing through our prayer
Give peace of heart to us, O Master,
This hour of utmost dread to bear.
And on the threshold of the grave,
Breathe power divine into our clay
That we, Thy children, may find strength
In meekness for our foes to pray.

Candace Fleming awarded herself the Newbery Medal in fifth grade after scraping the gold sticker off the class copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and pasting it onto her first novel—a ten-page, ten-chapter mystery called Who Done It? She’s been collecting awards (her own, not Elizabeth George Speare’s) ever since.
Today, Candace is the versatile and acclaimed author of more than twenty books for children, including the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award-winning biography, The Lincolns; the bestselling picture book, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!; and the belovedBoxes for Katje.

Win a copy of The Family Romanov!
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-US/CAN only
-ends 7/18
-must be 13+
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
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jennifer.essad said...

I'm imagine reading this novel with a thick accent following the family. Amazing cover and storyline

Carl Scott said...

The Romanov’s and their tragic story continue to fascinate us even today. It's great to see a book specifically for young people about them. I think it could quite easily become a classic. Thanks very much for the chance to win a copy.

Judy said...

My granddaughter would enjoy this. I might even read it, I have always been interest In this family in history.

Michael G-G said...

I loved this! Candace Fleming has unearthed a trove of amazing information. I can't wait to read this.

Anonymous said...

there will never be 7 royal graves...with a bullet in her head she fought back and ran away.. escaped the drunkards to the holy place to "rise" to her freedom...