Breaking Stalin's Nose
By Eugene Yelchin
Henry Holt and Company, 2011. 154 pgs. Middle Grade fiction
Growing up in Stalin's Russia, Sasha Zaichik can't wait to join the Young Pioneers, the Communist group for youth. He's known all the laws and rules of being a good Communist since he was a child, he loves Stalin, and he wants to grow up to be a hero like his father, a good, good Communist. However, on the eve of the ceremony when he'll finally join the Pioneers, Sasha's father is arrested. Certain there must be a mistake and that when Stalin finds out, he'll free his father, Sasha stills plans to join the Pioneers. However, this incident sets in motion a series of events that shows Sasha that perhaps Stalin and Communism are the idols and ideals he wants to uphold anymore.
This is a quick read (I read it in 30 minutes), but it's a great overview into Stalinist Russia, and how the people lived in fear and oppression, and that no one was safe. With black and white illustrations throughout, this is historical fiction that could appeal to even reluctant readers and the themes make it an excellent choice for classroom discussions.
4 stars. Clean read.