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Breaking Stalin's Nose Hardcover – September 27, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1 edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805092161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805092165
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“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 Sasha’s 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 (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." --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.” --Horn Book, starred review

“Yelchin’s graphite illustrations are an effective complement to his prose, which unfurls in Sasha’s steady, first-person voice, and together they tell an important tale.” --Kirkus

"Yelchin skillfully combines narrative with dramatic black-and-white illustrations to tell the story of life in the Soviet Union under Stalin.” --SLJ

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.

More About the Author

Eugene Yelchin is a Russian born author and illustrator of children's books.
In 2012, Breaking Stalin's Nose, a middle grade novel that he had written and illustrated received a Newbery Honor award. Horn Book magazine called Breaking Stalin's Nose one of the Best Books of 2011. In 2010, the picture book Rooster Prince of Breslov that he illustrated received the National Jewish Book Award. In 2006, he received a Tomie de Paola award. His other books received starred reviews, and were on Children's Choice and the Independent Booksellers lists.

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Customer Reviews

I read this book in about an hour.
sandyv_virginia
I highly recommend this book for elementary age students, both boys and girls, and anyone older who appreciates great children's literature and picture books.
Kathryn Hall
It deals with a difficult topic in a very accessible way.
E. Strickenburg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Lori Katz on February 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Sasha lives in the USSR with his father in a communal apartment with 47 other people. He has dreamed of becoming a Young Soviet Pioneer all his short life and serving Stalin whom he worships. Then one night his father is arrested and slowly everything Sasha knows, loves and believes in begins to crumble.

Written to be accessible to young readers this is a look into the Cold War that just might send readers looking for more. Heavily illustrated and printed in a format that reluctant readers will be also be drawn to. As an adult I can only wonder how anyone survived this time period. Eugene Yelchin won a 2012 Newbery Honor for BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE and I am glad he did otherwise I am not sure I would have read this book. Recommended for middle graders that enjoy historical fiction.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By sandyv_virginia on November 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book intrigued me enough to pull it off the shelf. The cover picture drew me in. I read this book in about an hour. I couldn't put it down! Most of that hour I kept shaking my head wondering how anyone in USSR survived the Cold War without going mad. The mind games that adults played! This story shows us the effects of dictatorship and misinformation with heartbreaking results. For adults as well as young adults.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kat Cameron on February 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This beautiful and sad story touched my heart. During the time of Stalin's terrifying reign over Russia thousands of people where imprisoned and executed for a variety of "crimes", many of which were innocent. It was a time of terror and fear for the Soviet people. This book takes place over a two or three day period in the life of Sasha Zaichik, an upper elementary aged boy whose father is part of Stalin's secret police. His mother has died under mysterious circumstances much earlier and his world is about to be turned upside down.

Mr. Yelchin's story is frightening and very sad. I felt for Sasha and his father. The various characters in the book make choices in desperate situations.....I felt for all of them. The emotional impact of this story is strong and I thought on this book, these characters and what it all meant for several days. I had my husband read the book so we could talk about it.

Is this book for children? You might ask yourself that after reading the above. Absolutely, YES! This is a book that children should read but parents should read it as well so that the topic can be discussed. Why did Sasha and his father behave as they did? Why did the teacher manipulate the students so badly? What happened to Sasha after the book was over? What happened to Sasha's classmates? And, most importantly, what would I do if I were placed in a situation where doing the right thing was costly for me? Many good conversations can come from reading a book together and this book is a good one to that end.

I highly recommend "Breaking Stalin's Nose".
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By L. Bencze on November 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A touching account of a young boy's misadventures in Stalinist Russia. It pulls no punches about the evils of communism. You might call this a kid's version of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago. Harrowing but never gruesome.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Maggie Knapp on May 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book left me with such mixed feelings. It is well written and covers an interesting topic (the Soviet Union under the rule of Stalin.) As an adult, I appreciated the simple and direct writing style, which somehow seemed to fit with what I think of as the "no-nonsense" attitude of the time. The writing has a commanding, slightly "pushy" tone that I almost didn't notice as a reader but it fit with the (to me) overbearing style of the government at that time.

So here's my problem with the book. Our hero is 10 years old. The book is small, with full page illustrations every 8 pages or so, and half page illustrations more frequently. Lots of white space, big print and short chapters. It looks like a book for 4th graders. But it isn't. It is a book for (maybe) 6th graders, most of whom (at my school at least) will turn up their noses at what they see as "too babyish."

Going back to the positive (because I do think it's a good book) I will totally suggest this to older readers who are studying that period in history. I can see an 8th grader who wants to gain an overall sense of that time without reading a "boring" text book passage. This book could be read in 1-2 hours by many readers and I hope I can find a way to partner it with 8th grade or high school readers seeking a non-threatening way to get a feel for one view of the time.

About me: I'm a middle school/high school librarian
How I got this book: I purchased it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By E. Strickenburg on February 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This fast-paced and captivating story follows 10-year-old Sasha Zaichik during a pivotal two days of his life. The book opens with Sasha writing a letter to his beloved Comrade Stalin, expressing his joy at his upcoming acceptance into the ranks of the Soviet Young Pioneers. But after his father is arrested, Sasha's eyes are gradually opened to things that aren't right in his world.

The first person narrative allows us to share in Sasha's experiences: the optimism and hope he finds in Communism, his complete and utter trust in his great Leader and Teacher Stalin, his confusion at how Stalin could allow his father to be arrested, the pressure he faces at school to inform on his friends and family members, his realization that the system he has always known and loved may suddenly turn on him. It's a fascinating account, written by a man who grew up in the Soviet Union himself, and is coupled with gripping black-and-white illustrations throughout.

This book is intended for children, and it doesn't overstep those bounds. It deals with a difficult topic in a very accessible way. I would suggest this book for late elementary and middle schoolers, especially in a discussion-oriented environment with parents or teachers. It wasn't as disturbing as other children's books I've read on the topic.

An excerpt from the Author's Note sums up the book's message well: "To this day, there are places in the world where innocent people face persecution and death for making a choice about what they believe to be right."
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