Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Velchin (2011)

breaking-stalins-noseI read Stalin’s Nose in one sitting. It is a terse story of a young Russian boy named Sasha Zaichik. Told over the course of two days, the action begins when Sasha’s father is arrested from their community home on the eve of Sasha’s induction into the Soviet Young Pioneers. Sasha, a staunch communist, is certain Stalin will release his father.  Yet this does not happen.

At school the following day, Shasha accidentally breaks the nose piece on a statue of Stalin and fears he will also be arrested. Fear and suspicion abound. A student is arrested. Then a teacher. Sasha begins to see imperfections in the communist system.

While I enjoyed this book, I was pretty shocked it won a Newbery Honor. It wasn’t on my radar. The storytelling is fluid but it wasn’t a story I was particularly wowed by. Its message is powerful yet how many young children will understand it? I am curious to see how it circs and what kids say about it. It could also be a great middle school read for reluctant readers.

Read other reviews:
Reads for Keeps
Red Letter Day?
Waking Brain Cells


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