I must admit that while reading I had a hard time envisioning today’s youth actually wanting to read and able to relate to this middle grade book. The story is set in 1950’s Moscow where a young, and very naive boy named Sasha, is set to become a young pioneer. The quick pace keeps the reader involved in this brief story that spans only a few days. While the story depicts aspects of what life must have been like, it is also heavily punctuated by absurd, cartoon-like events, such as a conversation with a talking, smoking, Stalin’s nose. The author is an artist and his black and white illustrations really help bring the characters to life. In addition, the most interesting part of the book is knowing far more than young Sasha who thinks that only if Stalin knew what was happening, then he would surely help those being wrongly accused. I hope that young people prove me wrong and enjoy this book as much as the adults who have deemed it worthy of both a 2012 Newbery Honor book award and Horn Book’s Best Books for 2011.
Title: Breaking Stalin’s nose
Author/Illustrator: Eugene Yelchin
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company