Saturday, September 15, 2012

Breaking Stalin's Nose Review

Book talk: Have you ever felt on top of the world one day only to have the ground fall out from beneath your feet, leaving you lower than you've ever felt before? Tomorrow Sasha will become a Young Pioneer.  It's a day he's been waiting for for a long time. He'll be one step closer to becoming like his father, the great communist hero who helps unmask enemies hiding in their own country.  His father will even be the guest of honor at the ceremony.  Sasha goes to bed thinking that tomorrow couldn't get any better.  But when he wakes up, he will find out that it could easily get a lot worse.

Rocks my socks:  I love the perspective this book provides.  Sasha starts out as a gung-ho communist and even writes a letter to Stalin about how he pities children who have to grow up in other countries.  Then his world slowly comes crashing down around him as he discovers the web of lies he's been caught in his entire life.  The novel is an exercise in dramatic irony as the reader waits for Sasha to realize what it means to live in Stalinist Russia.  Of course the novel is aimed at a pretty young crowd so they might not know that much about the era.  I'd be interested in knowing what it's like to read for someone who doesn't know any more than Sasha does at the beginning and makes all these discoveries along with him.

Rocks in my socks:  One of the great strengths of this novel is how accessible it is with its easy chapters and plentiful pictures, but it felt like a weakness to me as well.  There were a lot of great scenes and moments to explore, but they were all passed over too quickly to do so.  I never got enough of a feel for any of the characters, including Sasha, to really become invested in them.

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to 4th grade and up looking for a quick historical fiction to read.


MacMillan's has a trailer for the book on their YouTube page

ALA has a video with Yelchin talking about his background and winning the Newbery Honor

MacMillan's has a page for the book with the trailer, pictures from the novel, excerpts, reviews, and a discussion guide

Eugene Yelchin has a site dedicated to the book packed full of extras and more information about the setting of the novel

Yelchin's main website has information about his other books, his exhibitions, his life, and a portfolio of his work

Source: #ALA12

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin: Buy it or check it out today!

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