Sunday, January 26, 2014


*  Book Review:  POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil
*  Writer 2 Writer:  Writing Humor
*  The Book Truck Eagle Scout Project

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM), a weekly event hosted by author Shannon Messenger. For a list of other MMGM posts, click HERE.

Eugene Yelchin
Henry Holt
176 pp.
Ages 9-12

Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:

The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.
A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.
A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.

But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway.  And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night.

This moving story of a ten-year-old boy's world shattering is masterful in its simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility.


Breaking Stalin's Nose was a 2012 Newbery Honor book and for good reason. The story starts off simple enough, but very quickly becomes a heart-wrenching story of loss and a young boy's struggle to come to terms with his devotion to Communism and its leader, Joseph Stalin, and the very real tragedy and fear that plague the Russian people.

Through a child's eyes, readers are given a vivid and frightening view of what it was like to live under Communist rule in the 1930s. There are no happy endings here. I felt on the edge of tears many times, and my gut clenched when realizing that though Zaichek's story is fiction, the bigger story of Communism and the suffering it brought to untold millions was, and still is in some parts of the world, all too real.

One of the most memorable books I've read in a long time, Yelchin's beautifully illustrated story gets a teary-eyed:


Profanity:  None
Sexuality:  None
Violence:  Mild (though death and executions are mentioned)

1 comment:

  1. You're right. This is a book is one I won't soon forget either. The character arc was so moving and well done.