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Breaking Stalin's Noseby Eugene Yelchin
Synopses & Reviews
Breaking Stalin's Nose is one of Horn Books Best Fiction Books of 2011
Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:
The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.
A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.
A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.
But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway. And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night.
Eugene Yelchin's moving story of a ten-year-old boy's world shattering is masterful in its simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility.
"Picture book author/illustrator Yelchin (Won Ton) makes an impressive middle-grade debut with this compact novel about a devoted young Communist in Stalin-era Russia, illustrated with dramatically lit spot art. Ten-year-old Sasha lives with his father, a State Security secret policeman whom he worships (almost as much as he worships Stalin), and 46 others in a communal apartment. The story opens on the eve of the fulfillment of Sasha's dream — to become a Young Soviet Pioneer — and traces the downward spiral of the following 24 hours, as he resists his growing understanding that his beloved Communist state is far from ideal. Through Sasha's fresh and optimistic voice, Yelchin powerfully renders an atmosphere of fear that forces false confessions, even among schoolchildren, and encourages neighbors and family members to betray one another without evidence. Readers will quickly pick up on the dichotomy between Sasha's ardent beliefs and the reality of life under Stalinism, and be glad for his ultimate disillusion, even as they worry for his future. An author's note concisely presents the chilling historical background and personal connection that underlie the story. Ages 9 — 12. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In 1842, Christopher Robertsonandrsquo;s family lives a difficult life as andldquo;crofters,andrdquo; farmers and fishermen so in debt to the landowner that they have no hope of ever breaking free. To make matters worse, Christopher also lives under the thumb of his morally questionable father and devious brother. When his brother frames him for the theft of their fatherandrsquo;s secret bag of coins, Christopher must leave his home and embark on a journey across the island to return the coins and clear his name. Itandrsquo;s a journey that takes twists and turns, including stops in prison, on a smugglerandrsquo;s ship, and at the house of a beautiful girlandmdash;and it ends with him escaping to a new life in America, which has dangers of its own.
About the Author
Eugene Yelchin has illustrated several books for children, including Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? and Won Ton. He lives in California with his wife and children.
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