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Kobzar's Children: A Century of Untold Ukrainian Stories Paperback – June 30, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


"Social injustice and the mistreatment of Ukrainian people, both in Europe and in Canada, are brought to the fore in this moving book that not only will revive some memories but will also ensure that the truth is told and the stories will not be forgotten. A fitting tribute to the resilience of the Ukrainian people, this book is long overdue.
Dyakoyu, Ms. Skrypuch!"

Highly Recommended

-- CM Magazine

"The anthology succeeds in providing a broad overview of a century of the Ukrainian immigrant experience."

-- Winnipeg Free Press

About the Author

Among the authors whose work appear in Kobzar's Children with Marsha Skrypuch are:

  • Award-winning author Larry Warwaruk, whose contribution Bargain, set in Saskatchewan, is based on a true story,
  • The Winnipeg-born and -based Brenda Hasiuk whose fiction has been published in leading literary journals. Her contribution to the collection, It's Me Tatia, is set in Western Canada in 1919,
  • Paulette MacQuarrie, a freelance editor and producer of the English-language Ukrainian radio program, Nash Holos, in British Columbia,
  • Poems by Linda Mikolayenko, from Ethelbert, Manitoba, and Sonja Dunn, who has worked in television for almost 30 years, and
  • A high school student from Quebec, Kim Pawliw, who wrote a tribute to her Baba who, as a child was imprisoned with her family at the Spirit Lake Internment Camp.

The Many Circles of Hell, by Stefan Petelycky, a Ukrainian survivor of Aushwitz who now lives in British Columbia, is undoubtedly the most horrific story in the collection. Petelycky vividly describe the barbaric treatment suffered by him and his fellow former prisoners, many of them Ukrainians.

Marsha Skrypuch is the author of many books for children, including Silver Threads, The Best Gifts, Enough, The Hunger and Hope's War. Among the numerous writing awards won her novel about the Armenian genocide, Nobody's Child, was nominated for the Red Maple Award, the Alberta Rocky Mountain Book Award, the B.C. Stellar Award; and it was listed by Resource Links as a Best Book.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside; 1 edition (June 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550419978
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550419979
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,306,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marsha Skrypuch is the author of many books for children and young adults. She has written more novels about the Armenian genocide than any other author in the English speaking world, yet she is not Armenian. "I write about people who must give up everything that is dear to them and travel to a new country. To me, these people are heroic."

Marsha tricked her teachers into thinking she knew how to read until it all caught up with her in grade 4 when she failed the provincial reading exam. Adding insult to injury, they made her repeat the year. As the tallest and oldest kid in the class, she didn't want to be seen learning to read with little skinny books and she was too proud to ask for help, so she taught herself how to read by taking out the fattest book in the children's section of the Brantford Public Library -- Oliver Twist. She kept on renewing it for a whole year. Reading that book was a turning point in her life. She decided that she loved reading, and wanted to write too.

Marsha loves speaking with students of all ages, especially those who are struggling academically or who feel "different".

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Aussiegirl on July 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
In the introduction to this collection of short historical fiction, memoirs and poems touching upon a century of the history of Ukrainian immigrant experience, Marsha Skrypuch writes the following:

"When you don't write your own stories, others will write them for you."

And in publishing this marvelous collection of stories she begins the process of putting the record straight. Like Marsha, I too grew up with the realization that I belonged essentially to an invisible and completely unknown ethnic group -- Ukrainians, whom no one seemed to have ever heard of, and if they had, they said things like -- "That's the same as Russian, isn't it?"

As Marsha explains in the foreword, the kobzars were Ukraine's blind, wandering minstrels, who in the ancient tradition of Homer memorized long epic historical poems that spoke of the great events of Ukrainian history, and in doing so kept a population that was largely illiterate in touch with their great heritage.

During Stalin's times they kept people apprised of the repressions and persecutions and famine in addition to their traditional role, and so they came to the notice of Josef Stalin, who called for a national conference of kobzars. Hundreds showed up, and all were shot. There are a few kobzars who survived to tell the tale, and a very few who carry on the tradition today.

Because Marsha does not speak Ukrainian, she did not have access to emigre literature that spoke of the immigrant experience, and of experiences in Ukraine.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rosemarie Riechel on September 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Kobzar's (storytellers) of the Ukraine died by Stalin's orders, as did their stories. A new generation of Kobzars emerged. In this title, a collection of short historical fiction, poems and memoirs, Kobzar's children chronicle the Ukrainian immigrant experience in Canada from 1905 to 2004--living through internment as enemy aliens, displacement, homesteading, concentration camps, and more. This magnificent collection is so absorbing, it is impossible to put it down.

Marsha Skrypuch has gifted readers with a mix of dark and light subjects that are intimate and totally absorbing. While enriching one's knowledge of Ukranian immigrant history, this collection gives testimony to the human experience unbounded by geography. Masterful!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kate Coombs VINE VOICE on October 15, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I didn't know very much about Ukrainian immigrants, but this collection of fiction, poetry, and memoir has really opened my eyes. For one thing, it reminded me that life for so many people on this planet has been one of grim survival--and that's just the effort to farm an inhospitable land, let alone to deal with man's inhumanity. This story collection, while it has moments of humor ("The Red Boots" and "A Bar of Chocolate" spring to mind), is mostly poignant and at times haunting as it evokes events such as Stalin's famine-genocide against millions of Ukrainian farmers, an event punctuated by farcical displays of peasant well-being orchestrated and enacted for foreign journalists.

The challenges facing immigrants is a timeless message which has an unpleasantly real application for me today, since I live in a country where many people direct hostility toward Hispanic immigrants. Likewise, the internment of Ukrainian immigrants in Canada during World War I is reminiscent of the Japanese internment here in California during World War II. I was also reminded that, though the primary focus of the Nazi Holocaust was the Jews, other peoples, including Ukrainian and other political dissidents and resistance fighters, were also tortured and killed in death/slave camps.

It's nice that the book ends on a hopeful note, with a contemporary story about the Orange Revolution.

Kobzar's Children is not for young children, but for those Young Adult (and older) readers who are willing to consider the complexities of this world we live in and to focus on a less well-known era and people in history, I highly recommend this book.
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Ms. Skrypuch's passion has always been writing stories, which capture real experiences that have been lost or suppressed--and, thus, this anthology came to be born. Within it is a century of untold stories--life stories and histories that were either falsified or suppressed while our parents and grandparents suffered in silence. We are Kobzar's children; like the wandering Kobzars of yesteryear, it's up to us to relate their untold stories.

Honored as a Canadian Ukrainian Woman of Influence and as an author of seven books for children and young adults, many of which have been nominated for numerous awards, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is editor of `Kobzar's Children: A Century of Untold Ukrainian Stories (`Kobzar's Children')' and contributor of two of its stories.

The author states that growing up, she could only find one Ukrainian book written in English, so she started to read Russian stories, Polish stories, and Jewish stories. As she read, a disturbing trend materialized: she found that Ukrainians were often portrayed with negative stereotypes--as buffoons, bullies, drunks, and murderers.

As an adult, she heard about the Kobzars--blind, wandering minstrels of Ukraine who memorized long epic poems, which had been passed down generation to generation. Their poetry captured the rich history, the folk tales, and the cultural identity of Ukraine.

During Stalin's regime, Kobzars intermingled the older tales with stories of Soviet repression, terror, and famine--contemporary stories. In the 1930s, Stalin called the first national conference of Kobzars in Ukraine--hundreds congregated--and then, Stalin had them all shot. He then rounded up Ukrainian artists, journalists, novelists, and playwrights, and murdered them, too.
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