Breaking Stalin's Nose

Eugene Yelchin. Holt, $15.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9216-5
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.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Open Ebook - 160 pages - 978-1-4299-4995-8
Prebound-Sewn - 167 pages - 978-0-606-32308-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-4640-4561-5
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-1-250-03410-6
Hardcover - 159 pages - 978-4-00-115659-1
Prebound-Glued - 176 pages - 978-1-62765-141-7
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