cover image SILVER THREADS


Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, , illus. by Michael Martchenko. . Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-55041-901-6

This book by Skrypuch and Martchenko, who collaborated on Enough (2000), another tale recounting the hardships endured by the Ukrainian people, was their first effort—published in Canada in 1996 and now available in the U.S. Here they reveal a page in Canadian history, based on the author's grandparents' experience. Husband and wife Ivan and Anna escape persecution in an occupied Ukraine for promises of plenty across the ocean in Canada. Using door hinges and a pane of glass brought from their old house, the couple builds "a one-room home amid the wilderness.... And a tiny black spider nestled in a corner, spinning its threads of silver." The adult characters, dense text and numerous plot developments involving historical events with which most American youngsters will not be familiar, may lose the audience. For instance, when Ivan tries to become a Canadian soldier at the outbreak of WWI, officials shackle him and intern him as an enemy of his new country. Martchenko's realistic paintings add cultural flavor (e.g., Anna's flower print babushka, detailed illustrations of holiday meals), but the characters at times exhibit an almost caricature-like appearance. Readers may benefit from the general lessons of injustice and hope, but much of the story's context will be lost without an adult on hand to explain it (e.g., how does the couple escape the emperor's soldiers and manage passage on a ship to Canada?). Ages 8-11. (Nov.)