Breaking Stalin's Nose

By . 2 cassettes or CDs. 2 hrs. Recorded Books. 2012. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4640-4560-8, CD: ISBN 978-1-4640-4561-5. $25.75
Gr 5–8—Ten-year-old Sasha Zaichik lives with his father and 48 other Soviet citizens in a communal apartment. Like many children his age, Sasha has been conditioned to idolize Joseph Stalin and believes that everyone is equal and no one should have secrets. Sasha's father's job, as a high-ranking officer in the State Security, or secret police, is to uncover and arrest those who resist the teachings of Stalin. Sasha is obsessed with his dad's job and is ecstatic when he discovers that his father will be part of the Young Pioneers rally in which Sasha will be pledging his allegiance to the Communist party. When his father is taken prisoner by another State Security officer, Sasha is bewildered. His father was one of them. How could this happen? Orphaned and alone on the streets, what is a young Communist to do but camp out and wait for school to begin. In school, Sasha breaks a classmate's eyeglasses with a snowball and damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway. Sasha is scheduled to carry the banner for the rally, but has everything changed? Eugene Yelchin's novel (Holt, 2011) draws on the author's own experiences to expose life in a totalitarian state in a way that can be easily understood and discussed by younger listeners. Narrator Mark Turetsky conveys Sasha's emotions in an appropriate manner. An author's note conveys Yelchin's personal experience with the State Security. This 2012 Newbery Honor award-winner leaves listeners wanting more.—Amanda Schiavulli, West Orange Public Library, NJ

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