To save an image, right click the thumbnail and choose "Save target as..." or "Save link as..."
|Breaking Stalin's nose|
Author: Yelchin, Eugene
In the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, ten-year-old Sasha idolizes his father, a devoted Communist, but when police take his father away and leave Sasha homeless, he is forced to examine his own perceptions, values, and beliefs.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.60
Points: 2.0 Quiz: 146486
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.20
Points: 5.0 Quiz: 55310
Newbery Honor, 2012
Common Core Standards
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 6 → Reading → CCR College & Career Readiness Anchor Standards fo
Kirkus Reviews (08/01/11)
School Library Journal (08/01/11)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (11/11)
The Hornbook (+) (00/09/11)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 08/01/2011 Gr 5–7—Velchin skillfully combines narrative with dramatic black-and-white illustrations to tell the story of life in the Soviet Union under Stalin. Sasha Zaichik, the 10-year-old son of a member of the secret police, is bursting with pride because he is ready to become a Young Pioneer. He is equally excited that his father will be officiating at the ceremony. But then he watches as his father is taken away to prison, turned in by a neighbor vying for bigger living quarters. Sasha joins his peers in taunting Borka Finkelstein, their only Jewish classmate, even though readers sense that he doesn't really want to do it. The question of who is a good Communist underlies much of the plot. The book's intriguing title refers to Sasha's accidentally breaking the nose off a bust of Stalin. Borka, desperate to see his imprisoned parents, confesses to the action, with the hope that he will be taken to prison, too. Sasha does not admit his own guilt. Eventually disillusionment overtakes homeless Sasha as he waits in line to visit his father. Velchin's illustrations are filled with pathos and breathe life into the narrative. Though there are many two-dimensional characters, mostly among the adults, Sasha and Borka are more fully drawn. While the story was obviously created to shed light on the oppression, secrecy, and atrocities under Stalin's regime, Sasha's emotions ring true. This is an absorbing, quick, multilayered read in which predictable and surprising events intertwine. Velchin clearly dramatizes the dangers of blindly believing in anything. Along with Ruta Sepetys's Between Shades of Gray (Philomel, 2011), this selection gives young people a look at this dark history.—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ - Copyright 2011 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 11/01/2011 Sasha Zaichik has finally arrived at the proudest moment of his ten-year life-his induction into the Young Pioneers, a Soviet youth group that will establish him as a staunch, loyal Communist like his father, an honored member of the State Security police. Mr. Zaichik has already handed his son the coveted red scarf that he’ll receive formally in a ceremony the next day, but amid the domestic pomp is the troubling, whispered advice that Sasha should go to his aunt’s apartment if anything should go wrong. And go wrong it does. A jealous neighbor who wants the Zaichiks’ more commodious apartment space rats him out to State Security, and as Sasha tries to cover up this family shame in school the next day, he inadvertently cracks the nose off a bust of Stalin and sets off a witch hunt among staff and students to determine who should be arrested for vandalizing state property. Two classmates with their own dark histories and private agendas initially deflect the blame from Sasha, but it soon becomes clear that nobody keeps a secret for long, even among the humblest echelons of Stalinist Russia. Slightly oversized font, short chapters, small trim size, generous illustration, and simple sentence structure all suggest a middle-grades chapter book, but a tone of relentlessly grim irony, underscored by pictures that feature the distorted features and vertiginous angles of nightmares, quickly clue the casual reader that this is serious, sophisticated stuff. 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. EB - Copyright 2011 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 10/15/2011 Growing up under Stalin, Sasha Zaichik, 10, lives with his widower dad and 48 others in a crowded apartment with one kitchen and one toilet. Sasha’s dream is to be like his father, serving the great leader and working in the State Security secret police. Then his dad is arrested: did a neighbor betray him? At school, Sasha is recruited to report on anticommunist activity. The present-tense narrative is true to the young kid’s naive viewpoint, but the story is for older readers, especially as the shocking revelations reach the climax of what torture can make you confess. Picture-book illustrator Yelchin was raised in post-Stalinist Russia in the 1960s and left the country when he was 27. In his first novel, he uses the child’s innocent viewpoint to dramatize the heartbreaking secrets and lies, and graphite illustrations show the terrifying arrests of enemies of the people, even children, like Sasha’s classmate. In an afterword, Yelchin discusses the history and the brutal regime that affected millions. - Copyright 2011 Booklist.