The talented and versatile Candace Fleming, who writes novels and delectable picture books as well as groundbreaking nonfiction for young readers, shows why there’s so much excitement about nonfiction in children’s literature these days. The fall of imperial Russia and the fascinating story of the Nicholas II and Alexandra might seem more suited for a college history class. But in Fleming’s capable hands, readers will find themselves caught up in one of the most intriguing—and sometimes heartbreaking—stories of the 20th century.

Fleming reveals that her own fascination with the famed imperial family and the murders of Nicholas and Alexandra and their five children compelled her to undertake the project. “After some reading and research, I came to realize, more than anything, that I needed to find the answers to the question that kept nagging me: How did this happen?”

In tracing the complex answer to this question, Fleming deftly provides a portrait of the Romanovs and their times. The book is designed with young readers in mind. Historic photographs help make an unfamiliar time period vivid and real, and throughout the narrative, sections titled “Beyond the Palace Gates” illuminate the external events and the historical context that led to revolution and the fall of Russia’s last tsar.

Fleming’s meticulous research is documented in impeccable source notes and an impressive bibliography, making this a model for student researchers. All this and compelling storytelling make The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia stand out as a must-read for teens, and, of course, their curious parents.

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