February 19, 2018

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A Year Without Mom by Dasha Tolstikova | SLJ Review

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A Year Without Mom by Dasha TolstikovaredstarTolstikova, Dasha. A Year Without Mom. illus. by Dasha Tolstikova. 168p. Groundwood. 2015. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781554986927.

Gr 5 Up– In this fully illustrated novel, 12-year-old Dasha lives in Moscow and is unhappily surprised when her mother decides to spend a year in America, leaving her with her grandparents. Especially since her father moved to Los Angeles, she has really depended on her mom, and the absence of her actual parents is both freeing and painful as Dasha experiences the year—the same year that Gorbachev leaves and Yeltsin takes over what becomes the Russian Federation. Friends, relatives, and a crush on an oblivious boy all help Dasha cope, but what matters are the details of life in Russia. Dasha is delightfully portrayed in pencil-and-ink drawings with a gray wash. Spots of color attract the eye and provide emphasis. The accomplished drawings are loose without being fuzzy, and the slightly amateur look makes sense considering Dasha’s age. Dasha is not an angel, nor is she particularly badly behaved. Her parents seem loving but engrossed in their own lives. The interplay of drawings and text sometimes highlights an emotion and at other times conveys a conversation or mood, keeping the pages turning quickly with each scene. VERDICT A lovely portrayal in words and art of a year in the life of an engaging tween girl from the other side of the world.–Carol A. Edwards, Formerly at Denver Public Library, CO

This review was published in the School Library Journal December 2015 issue.

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