Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia, Asya Pekurovskaya received an M.A. in Literature from Leningrad University, wed a writer, was blessed with a child and with the chance to immigrate to America, finished a doctoral program in Literature at Stanford University and a post-doctoral program in Philosophy at the University of Charlottesville.
Prior to writing a children’s fantasy series (six books) in two languages, she published three titles in Russian: a memoir in 2001 about her married life with Sergej Dovlatov, a writer of notable renown in Russian; a monograph on Dostoevsky, “Passions According to Dostoevsky: Mechanisms of Desire” in 2004; and a monograph on Kant, “The Hermetic Life of Immanuel Kant: Beyond Hearing and Vision” in 2010.
Now she is working on a manuscript called “Reading after Reading,” in which she offers her reading of a French postmodernist, Gilles Deleuze reading Leibniz in a book called “Le Pli” (The Fold).
Spark, the Stone Man
Illustrated by Olga Titova
Spark, a stonemason from Granite Mountain, wishes to explore the unknown realm of Lemon Drop Valley far below his home. One evening he happens to overhear the King telling his Royal Double the secret of how to get there. He immediately sets off on his adventure where he sees amazing sights, falls in love, makes new friends and meets the Great Wizard Lestro who holds the key to keeping the worlds separate from each other forever. The story is full of strangeness and wonder but the glory and charm of it all is overshadowed by its cryptic disconnect. Too many things “just happen” without any real explanation or are mentioned once but not followed-up on leaving the narrative muddled and hard to follow. No one seems to question Spark’s appearance in their land and characters come and go with no obvious reason for being there. This is the first in a series though, so perhaps subsequent volumes will tie up the many loose ends. The real attractions here are the illustrations which are luminous and enchanting, filling entire spreads with rich glowing color and imaginative images. A possible cult following could develop but it won’t likely find mass appeal. 2011, Pekasus, $27.00. Ages 9 to 12.
Asya uses the narrative of Spark, the Stone Man to discuss such notions as setting, plot, narrative tone, modes, voice, etc. She begins by asking students to share their experiences with different cultures and customs. Then she asks them to imagine a desolate mountanous setting and alternatively, a luxuriant valley setting, and then try to populate each with characters. What kind of characters would end up living where and what would be the right voice for them? She then suggests moving characters from one setting to another and fantasize about how the character would change. Then she discusses possible ways authors can relate to their characters and introduces concepts such as conflict, expectations, and suspense.
Her program is designed for ages 8 up.
To learn more about Asya Pekurovskaya and her publications please visit www.an-animation.com.