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.
"Mr. Yelchin has compressed into two days of events an entire epoch, giving young readers a glimpse of the precariousness of life in a capricious yet ever-watchful totalitarian state." —Wall Street Journal "A miracle of brevity, this affecting novel zeroes in on two days and one boy to personalize Stalin's killing machine of the 30s. . . . Black-and-white drawings march across the pages to juxtapose hope and fear, truth and tyranny, small moments and historical forces, innocence and evil. This Newbery Honor book offers timeless lessons about dictatorship, disillusionment and personal choice." —San Francisco Chronicle"The cat-and-mouse chase that pits Sashas whole world against him will rivet middle-grade readers, but this title will hold special appeal for older students whose grasp of content outstrips their reading proficiency." —BCCB "Picture book author/illustrator Yelchin 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." —Publishers Weekly * "This brief novel gets at the heart of a society that asks its citizens, even its children, to report on relatives and friends. Appropriately menacing illustrations by first-time novelist Yelchin add a sinister tone." —The Horn Book, starred review "Yelchins graphite illustrations are an effective complement to his prose, which unfurls in Sashas steady, first-person voice, and together they tell an important tale." —Kirkus Reviews "Yelchin skillfully combines narrative with dramatic black-and-white illustrations to tell the story of life in the Soviet Union under Stalin." —School Library Journal
andquot;The story showcases the authorandrsquo;s talent for description and pacing...those who [invest in this title] will be well rewarded.andquot;
andquot;Burackand#39;s story moves at an engaging clip with enough thrills and historical detail to please many readers.andquot;
andquot;Set in 1842 and overflowing with historical detail, the novel...leads to a rewarding conclusion...andquot;
andquot;Debut author Burack infuses this gritty tale with plenty of historical detail... this unique historical adventure is illuminating.andquot;
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
Years ago, Emilie Christie Burack discovered a set of brittle cassette tapes in a shoe box at the back of her fatherandrsquo;s closet on which her late grandfather had recorded his familyandrsquo;s history. When she learned her ancestor had come from the islands andldquo;where they had little ponies with long hair,andrdquo; she had to know more. She has traveled to the Shetland Islands and spent the last four years researching its history and unique Norse-Scots culture. She now resides in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. This is her first book.