2012 Newbery Honor Title.
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.
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Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
September 01, 2011
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Excerpt from Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin
Breaking Stalin's Nose
MY DAD IS A HERO and a Communist and, more than anything, I want to be like him. I can never be like Comrade Stalin, of course. He's our great Leader and Teacher.
The voice on the radio says, "Soviet people, follow our great Leader and Teacher--the beloved Stalin--forward and ever forward to Communism! Stalin is our banner! Stalin is our future! Stalin is our happiness!" Then a song comes on, "A Bright Future Is Open to Us." I know every word, and, singing along, I take out a pencil and paper and start writing.
Dear Comrade stalin,
I want to thank you personally for my happy childhood. I am fortunate to live in the soviet Union, the most democratic and progressive country in the world. I have read how hard the lives of children are in the capitalist countries and I feel pity for all those who do not live in the USSR. They will never see their dreams come true.
My greatest dream has always been to join the Young soviet Pioneers--the most important step in becoming a real Communist like my dad. By the time I was one year old, my dad had taught me the Pioneers greeting. He would say, "Young Pioneer! Ready to fight for the cause of the Communist Party and Comrade stalin?" In response, I would raise my hand in the Pioneers salute.
Of course, I couldn't reply "Always ready!" like the real Pioneers do; I couldn't talk yet. But I'm old enough now and my dream is becoming a reality. Tomorrow at my school's Pioneers rally, I will finally become a Pioneer.
It's not possible to be a true Pioneer without training one's character in the stalinist spirit .
I solemnly promise to make myself strong from physical exercise, to forge my Communist character, and always to be vigilant, because our capitalist enemies are never asleep. I will not rest until I am truly useful to my beloved soviet land and to you personally, dear Comrade stalin. Thank you for giving me such a wonderful opportunity.
Forever yours, sasha Zaichik, Moscow Elementary chool #37
When I imagine Comrade Stalin reading my letter, I get so excited that I can't sit still. I rise up and march like a Pioneer around the room, then head to the kitchen to wait for my dad.
Copyright (c) 2011 by Eugene Yelchin