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Breaking Stalin's Nose. Cute Kid's Book or Propaganda?


Hunter
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I'm about 1/2 way through Breaking Stalin's Nose. I saw it in the Sonlight catalog and was curious.

 

So far, I'm a little overwhelmed with the propaganda depiction of Cold War Russia. As the book finishes up, am I going to feel differently?

 

Golly, we were talking about Little House on the Prairie. Isn't this SO much worse?

 

I'm just half way through, so maybe I'm not seeing the whole picture. If I were reading this aloud to a student, I would have stopped until I had a chance to read ahead. This does not feel okay.

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I stopped reading about halfway through.  I didn't like it at all, and I didn't assign it.   I felt sure something really egregiously terrible was going to happen . . . I have no idea if it did.  The book definitely didn't make my cut.  We liked the Gloria Whelan series much better for giving the flavor of Russia under Stalin for an 11 year old.

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I stopped reading about halfway through. I didn't like it at all, and I didn't assign it. I felt sure something really egregiously terrible was going to happen . . . I have no idea if it did. The book definitely didn't make my cut. We liked the Gloria Whelan series much better for giving the flavor of Russia under Stalin for an 11 year old.

Thanks for the tip. I'll look for it.

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The book was very short & very raw in regards to emotions. We read it in a day, together. We looked at it in the light that while it was a horrible thing that happened it wasn't just unique to Russia. I wouldn't say I loved the book, but it certainly got the point across. Was it spot on accurate? Perhaps not, all though there is, if I remember correctly, an author's note in the end.

 

Not sure how far you got in the book or if you want a 

 

SPOILER ALERT: but in the end the boys father is taken away & he's left on his own to try & figure out what to do. The book ends with him standing in line to wait & see his father in jail. A kind woman in line strikes up a conversation with him & offers him a hot potato. Basically, nothing is made right in the end except that he understands that getting to his beloved leader isn't going to fix the problems. 

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Kolamum, thanks for telling me the end. I don't want to finish this book.

 

I feel like, reading this book is an insult to the Soviet people.

 

We were chatting in the Little house thread about how sustained outrage is too exhausting to maintain. But this book is really making me mad.

 

I don't know if it's a Robert Dahl type book that is supposed to just be stupid and just happens to be in the Soviet Union and wasn't meant to be insulting of another culture. I'm having trouble believing that though. This is just so bad, I can't even figure out what is happening here.

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Okay, I found the author note. I have a library Kindle version, so navigating and skimming is more difficult. Kolamum, thanks for telling me about the author note.

 

So the author grew up in the Soviet Union. He is definitely anti-Soviet, and writing now as an outsider who chose to move to the USA. This is a really weird book. I think it's a book best skipped and not wasting any thought on.

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I'm really confused about your statements about it being insulting propaganda written by an outsider. The author spent the first twenty-seven years of his life in Soviet Russia--in St. Petersburg, not some backwater town. The time period of the book was his early childhood.

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I'm really confused about your statements about it being insulting propaganda written by an outsider. The author spent the first twenty-seven years of his life in Soviet Russia--in St. Petersburg, not some backwater town. The time period of the book was his early childhood.

 

Yes, he was there, but he is NOW an outsider that made the choice to LEAVE. I have left behind several cultures that I spent my childhood and younger adult-hood in, and I would never write a book like this about any of them. It's mocking, and … the illustrations are reminiscent of WW2 propaganda posters.

 

I don't understand this book. Maybe finishing it would help. I have no intention of doing that, though. The book has no value to ME. I don't use the Ronald Dahl books either, and I don't use Oliver Twist as historical fiction.

 

I'm not sure what this book is, but it's not useful as historical fiction to ME. Maybe it's meant to be some other genre, and if it is, I need a study guide to help me to understand and appreciate it.

 

What genre did the author consider this? From the reviews at Amazon–which I quickly stopped reading–people are using this as historical fiction?

 

Am I supposed to laugh at this book? What is the author's purpose? I'm so confused! It reminds me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which also leaves me VERY confused and Matilda. I saw a few minutes of the movie Matilda  and absolutely refused to finish it.

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I haven't read it, but after reading this thread, I am going to get it. Very few of my extended family members survived Stalin's concentration camps. Those who weren't arrested, my grandparents, lived in a daily fear of being taken away at night. My grandmother stood for 10 years on a weekly basis in lines to send letters to her mother and brother, because nobody would tell her they have been executed and buried in mass graves. We have first hand accounts of horrific torture from those who shared prison cells with some of our relatives. The agony of life under Stalin's regime for the prosecuted was very real. My grandmother's friend spent 10 years in solitary because she wrote a letter to Stalin thinking their "great leader" must have not known what was happening.

I feel that all of that history is constantly bring swept under the rug and victims aren't recognized. I am happy to know there are books that describe horrific truths of that era. More should be written.

Should Ann Frank have a happy ending?

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I have read quite a bit of literature about the Soviet Union and little of it was pretty. But it didn't include caricatures of the people and it didn't mock them. The more horrific something is, the more care that needs to be taken when attempting to include humor and art.

 

I still don't know the author's purpose, or if he even had one. Maybe he was just trying to process his own memories. If this was a book written for adults and I was going to discuss it with adults, I'd be more apt to want to figure this out. As a children's book, I can't find a use for it, in the curriculum.

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I haven't read it, but after reading this thread, I am going to get it. Very few of my extended family members survived Stalin's concentration camps. Those who weren't arrested, my grandparents, lived in a daily fear of being taken away at night. My grandmother stood for 10 years on a weekly basis in lines to send letters to her mother and brother, because nobody would tell her they have been executed and buried in mass graves. We have first hand accounts of horrific torture from those who shared prison cells with some of our relatives. The agony of life under Stalin's regime for the prosecuted was very real. My grandmother's friend spent 10 years in solitary because she wrote a letter to Stalin thinking their "great leader" must have not known what was happening.

I feel that all of that history is constantly bring swept under the rug and victims aren't recognized. I am happy to know there are books that describe horrific truths of that era. More should be written.

Should Ann Frank have a happy ending?

 

I completely agree. Teaching children history also means showing that there are horrible things - that is the only thing that will help to prevent the same things from happening again. Focusing on the positive and "how to overcome adversity" ignores the fact sometimes no amount of character and strength will make any difference. People don't "overcome" the gulag.

 

On the day Stalin died, my dad was 13 years old. The teacher made every student get up in turn and they had to explain why it would have been better *they* had died instead of Stalin.

 

Whitewashing history and making the stories have happy endings serves no purpose - except create a mindset that "oh, it was not THAT bad". Yes, it was that bad. And worse. Worse than most people dare imagine.

 

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I think it was from Rod and Staff, and other Christian publishers that I got some pretty horrific but more respectful literature.

 

But, I fear sometimes, only hearing Christian and American accounts. I don't want to hear the whitewashed account, but I don't want propaganda either, and I have learned not to trust all I hear from some sources.

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I completely agree. Teaching children history also means showing that there are horrible things - that is the only thing that will help to prevent the same things from happening again. Focusing on the positive and "how to overcome adversity" ignores the fact sometimes no amount of character and strength will make any difference. People don't "overcome" the gulag.

 

On the day Stalin died, my dad was 13 years old. The teacher made every student get up in turn and they had to explain why it would have been better *they* had died instead of Stalin.

 

Whitewashing history and making the stories have happy endings serves no purpose - except create a mindset that "oh, it was not THAT bad". Yes, it was that bad. And worse. Worse than most people dare imagine.

I want to like this the thousand times.
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I think it was from Rod and Staff, and other Christian publishers that I got some pretty horrific but more respectful literature.

 

But, I fear sometimes, only hearing Christian and American accounts. I don't want to hear the whitewashed account, but I don't want propaganda either, and I have learned not to trust all I hear from some sources.

 

I am not sure I understand. In which way is the book *propaganda*?

 

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Aren't caricatures propaganda? Regentrude, have you read the book?

 

No, I have not, that is why I am asking. I do not think that caricature equals propaganda (whether the book itself is caricature, I can not judge since I have not read it). Propaganda always incorporates an element of misleading by presenting selective information, omitting, twisting - but I think it is impossible to exaggerate the horrors of the Stalin era, and thus I am wondering what "propaganda" would look like in a book that - as far as I understand - criticizes the era. There is absolutely nothing good to be said about that period in the regime.

 

ETA: To clarify what I mean: I understand propaganda to be used to make something good look bad or to make something bad look good, but not to make something bad look as bad as it is.

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I haven't read this, but now I kind of want to.  I don't think it's published by a Christian publisher?  In any case, it went mainstream because it received a Newbery Honor.

 

Are the caricatures humorous?  I feel like when someone has experienced horrors or oppression, sometimes a mix of humor and seriousness is an appropriate way to deal with it.  It doesn't have to be offensive.

 

Also, depending on what age the book would be for, I don't mind reading something with a strong point of view.  He experienced this world in his childhood and this is his take on that.  Shouldn't that be exactly what kids are learning to consider with history in middle school and later?

 

But like I said, I haven't read it and I second Rose's suggestion of the Gloria Whelan series, which is great.  Though she definitely is an "outsider."  She writes historical fiction about a variety of periods and is an American.

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"A chid's misshapen twisted remembrance of a bad experience" makes sense to me. Thank you. I'm not sure even understanding that would lead me to use this book before high school or with students with little understanding of the time and place. I don't know how to use this book. I guess as an example of an author with PTSD. :lol:

 

I looked up Gloria Whelan. Are the books:

 

Angel on the Square

The Impossible Journey

Burying the Sun

 

Outsider is fine as long as it's not mocking. I just don't like to mix certain things. I don't know; this book just hit a raw nerve. I just felt defensive of these people.

 

The book is not Christian. I just mentioned that most of the books I have read about this time period were published by American conservative Christian publishers, with obvious bias and agendas. And that has given me pause to keep an open mind.

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"A chid's misshapen twisted remembrance of a bad experience" makes sense to me. Thank you. I'm not sure even understanding that would lead me to use this book before high school or with students with little understanding of the time and place. I don't know how to use this book. I guess as an example of an author with PTSD. :lol:

 

I looked up Gloria Whelan. Are the books:

 

Angel on the Square

The Impossible Journey

Burying the Sun

 

Outsider is fine as long as it's not mocking. I just don't like to mix certain things. I don't know; this book just hit a raw nerve. I just felt defensive of these people.

 

The book is not Christian. I just mentioned that most of the books I have read about this time period were published by American conservative Christian publishers, with obvious bias and agendas. And that has given me pause to keep an open mind.

 

Yes, those are the ones.  Shannon really enjoyed them.  We also did Animal Farm and we talked a lot about life under Stalin, but as I've posted before, I've found that with my child it is better to cover the more brutal and heinous parts of history using nonfiction, in a very matter-of-fact way, rather than using stories where she gets emotionally pulled in and identifies with the characters.

 

I'm not saying those books aren't important, or valuable.  But I'm not going to impose them on my 11 year old.  She needs to be able to trust that when I ask her to read something, it's not going to giver her nightmares.  I make no apologies for that position.

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Yes, those are the ones. Shannon really enjoyed them. We also did Animal Farm and we talked a lot about life under Stalin, but as I've posted before, I've found that with my child it is better to cover the more brutal and heinous parts of history using nonfiction, in a very matter-of-fact way, rather than using stories where she gets emotionally pulled in and identifies with the characters.

 

I'm not saying those books aren't important, or valuable. But I'm not going to impose them on my 11 year old. She needs to be able to trust that when I ask her to read something, it's not going to giver her nightmares. I make no apologies for that position.

Thank you!
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This ..I think this is part of my struggle...I have overly emotional reactions... I struggle with PTSD, ...I think some books can be a positive healing experience and sometimes they can be triggers and sometimes the same book can do different things to different people...

 

again why homeschooling is a gift..meeting the needs of children in individual way...book by book, kid by kid...I am so glad there are forums like this out here to give us a chance to discuss and learn about various topics and books rather than after our kids have read them in p.s.

Never mind the author having PTSD, yeh, this book probably triggered the part of my PTSD that involves being accused of something I did not do. I am overly sensitive about others being unjustly accused, because of it. And I have lived in so many cultures that I am very slow to vilify any part of any culture, and hate culture mocking. I'm constantly defending one culture to another. Sometimes to an extreme that probably is not correct, but it a knee-jerk default reaction. "Don't make fun of them!" and "They are NOT weird!" could be put on t-shirts for me, I say them so often.

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I read this book a few years ago, when it was first published, so my memory is a little fuzzy.

I don't see how the book is an insult to Soviet people or propaganda. I remember a story that was not sugar coated and gut wrenching to read at times. A look, melding history and fiction, at just what life might have been like at that time and in that place.

I can understand not wanting a very young child to read it but I remember being pleased there was a historical story from that time period and place that I could have my kids read when we study that time period.

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I'm really hoping the Birchbark House series can be read alongside the Little House books as a way to TALK less about racism and let the books speak for themselves.

I know others are dealing with the horror and sadness in these books, but it is more the mocking and prejudices that are my issue.

I sometimes miss being an ultraconservative Christian who didn't use historical fiction and literature. My boys were raised primarily on the KJV and biographies for literature, and hymns for poetry. It sure was simpler. Back them I just had no time or stomach for this and no internet, obviously, and no money for special books from a conservative publisher. So they knew their Bibles and they knew their biographies, and their father let them read and watch ANYTHING they wanted on their own time, and they seem no worse off for it.

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Insult to people? I can't wait to read this book. Some books are emotional and parents know best when/if it's appropriate to read. I don't argue that. That's a different discussion.

What gives me pain is when people downplay the horrors of the USSR trying to point out "good." Oh, Stalin was guilty of concentration camps, but he industrialized the country. Let me say this clearly. There is no BUT. Death and horror is behind every brick hat was used to build. Raping and pulling fingers off of your daughter in front you, burying thousands half alive (my dad's friend who was sent to Siberia at 16 was put in charge of dumping executed bodies into graves. He managed to save few) in mass graves, deporting entire populations with kids, millions put into concentration camps, mass executions. You know what else, the system of mass arrests was put in place at the very beginning of USSR and amplified during Stalin's time, so no, it wasn't just 1937 (anybody interested should read a no -fiction work Gulag by Ann Applebaum). It was a regime built on complete lack of human rights, a regime rotten from its birth that took away life of millions.

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Insult to people? I can't wait to read this book. Some books are emotional and parents know best when/if it's appropriate to read. I don't argue that. That's a different discussion.

What gives me pain is when people downplay the horrors of the USSR trying to point out "good." Oh, Stalin was guilty of concentration camps, but he industrialized the country. Let me say this clearly. There is no BUT. Death and horror is behind every brick hat was used to build. Raping and pulling fingers off of your daughter in front you, burying thousands half alive (my dad's friend who was sent to Siberia at 16 was put in charge of dumping executed bodies into graves. He managed to save few) in mass graves, deporting entire populations with kids, millions put into concentration camps, mass executions. You know what else, the system of mass arrests was put in place at the very beginning of USSR and amplified during Stalin's time, so no, it wasn't just 1937 (anybody interested should read a no -fiction work Gulag by Ann Applebaum). It was a regime built on complete lack of human rights, a regime rotten from its birth that took away life of millions.

 

"Liking" your post seemed wrong somehow, because there is no way to like the facts you mention.  I am seriously puzzled about the entire discussion.

 

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"Liking" your post seemed wrong somehow, because there is no way to like the facts you mention. I am seriously puzzled about the entire discussion.

Well, I "liked" it, but in an "I agree" way, not a liking way. My mind keeps wandering back to this thread and I feel the same way. The things that my family and millions of others suffered under Stalin cannot be propagandized. It simply was that terrible. Any student of twentieth century Russian literature will find that the element of the absurd permeates. It's a direct reflection of the political and social climate.

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 Any student of twentieth century Russian literature will find that the element of the absurd permeates. It's a direct reflection of the political and social climate.

 

Thanks. This helps me understand too.

 

This all just keeps putting this book at high school or later for me.

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I feel like the PEOPLE, the everyday people, were distorted and vilified. What took place on some slave plantations was horrendous, and the slaves sometimes fell to the depths their captors pushed them to. But in modern times we would never allow a book with caricatures of dark skinned people equivalent to those of white Russians in Breaking Stalin's Nose.

 

Abused people don't always become heroes under abuse. Sometimes they become animals worse than their captors. That is when abusers really win, unfortunately. But how we portray the complex aftermath of abuse shows something about us. Mocking just isn't how I want to do it.

 

Kathryn and MaggieAnnie have helped me understand the context of a traumatized Russian author. This book makes more sense to me. My ability as an ADULT, who is widely read, to see this as a piece of art, is totally different than a teacher evaluating a book as a possible piece of curriculum, to INTRODUCE students to an era in history. These are completely different issues. And I love this board that we can do both.

 

Now that I understand this book better, I may have use for it as a high school text. Just–NO!–for primary/middle graders or the equivalent. I'd definitely buy a high school literature guide, if it went in depth about things like those that Kathryn and MaggieAnnie brought up.

 

But for primary/middle grade historical fiction, I'm hoping the series Chrysalis Academy suggested will work.

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I

Now that I understand this book better, I may have use for it as a high school text. Just–NO!–for primary/middle graders or the equivalent. I'd definitely buy a high school literature guide, if it went in depth about things like those that Kathryn and MaggieAnnie brought up.

 

No need to buy - shmoop has a pretty detailed one.

http://www.shmoop.com/breaking-stalins-nose/

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What gives me pain is when people downplay the horrors of the USSR trying to point out "good." Oh, Stalin was guilty of concentration camps, but he industrialized the country. Let me say this clearly. There is no BUT. 

 

I was talking about people, not Stalin, and not the value of industrialization at the expense of lives. I was talking about people that were pushed to the brink to survive and were not always heroes.

 

I've been there. I've done wrong, while being abused myself. I am haunted by what I did and did not do. One of my twins died during a domestic abuse incident. I was just a couple months out of my teens and didn't know how to save myself or my babies. I was brainwashed and physically sick and hungry and scared and naive and stupid and powerless and unable to understand what was happening, never mind take control of the situation.

 

But I don't think I deserve to be drawn with funny ears and distorted features and body parts. It happened. My youngest son's twin brother is dead. And maybe I could have saved him if I'd been smarter. But I wasn't smarter. I had severe Stockholm Syndrome, I was physically ill, and I was just a kid. A stupid kid. And there is more. Long lists of regrets where I was no hero. But I don't deserve to be mocked. There is nothing remotely funny about when I failed to rise above the environment my abusers isolated me in, and protect those that were even weaker than I was.

 

Life is hard. A little compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves goes a long way. The least we can do is not mock VICTIMS. 

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Hunter did you think your original question would raise so many thoughts ? :)

 

i do so love the WTM boards!

 

I had the feeling this would be a hot thread, but had no idea how it would evolve, because I wasn't even thinking then, what I'm thinking now. I was still just confused, more than anything. I started a book expecting a certain thing, and didn't get that, and didn't have the history and context to process what I was reading. Some of my first questions were, "What genre is this?"

 

Anyone clicking on the study guide and THEN reading the book is going to have a different experience than some of us have had, reading it cold. 

 

Did anyone else have an instructor give you The Lottery to read with preparation? Imagine how it was for those who first heard War of the Worlds on the radio live. Without preparation and context, some books are not understandable and are more harmful that good.

 

I love these boards too, because I don't have people in real life that I can take books like this to, for help.

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Breaking Stalin's Nose

In A Nutshell

File this one under Real Life Inspiration for all Those Super Cool Dystopian Novels You're Probably Reading Right Now. (Shmoop likes to keep our files very specific.)

The society depicted in Eugene Yelchin's Breaking Stalin's Nose is a sort of Big Bang event for all the dystopian fiction that is currently popular. We're talking The Hunger Games, theDivergent series, The Giver series, and even the oldies but goodies (the ones that got this whole ball rolling) like We1984, and Brave New World.

 

 

 

Sonlight did not call this book a "Super Cool Dystopian Novel". Processing a YA dystopian novel as middle grade historical fiction is likely to confuse anyone. No wonder I was confused.

 

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Did anyone else have an instructor give you The Lottery to read with preparation?

 

What kind of preparation does The Lottery need? It is very self explaining. I think the story has the biggest impact when one reads it cold for the first time without knowing what is going to come. Only then can one be properly shocked and horrified.

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I actually prefer books and movies without context, totally going into it cold.  If I already know I want to read it, I will even avoid the verbiage on the cover. So, for example, if I saw "Wilbur Smith" book with a first printing date is 2013 or 2014, I would buy it without more than a glance at the title.  Fortunately, my best friend is good at picking at picking out movies, and my husband occasionally stumbles across a book that had been his in our library and hands them to me.  

 

Although, I don't think War of the Worlds is a good example.  At the beginning, they said what it was.  It was just that the wildly popular show at the same time was a snoozer and people changed channels midstream.  

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Breaking Stalin's Nose

In A Nutshell

File this one under Real Life Inspiration for all Those Super Cool Dystopian Novels You're Probably Reading Right Now. (Shmoop likes to keep our files very specific.)

The society depicted in Eugene Yelchin's Breaking Stalin's Nose is a sort of Big Bang event for all the dystopian fiction that is currently popular. We're talking The Hunger Games, theDivergent series, The Giver series, and even the oldies but goodies (the ones that got this whole ball rolling) like We1984, and Brave New World.

 

Sonlight did not call this book a "Super Cool Dystopian Novel". Processing a YA dystopian novel as middle grade historical fiction is likely to confuse anyone. No wonder I was confused.

 

 

It does not say that the book IS dystopia! It says "real life inspiration FOR the dystopian novels..."

A book that simply depicts reality as it was in a certain society does not qualify as "dystopia". It would qualify as historical fiction unless it invented a society and exaggerated reality.

 

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Thanks to this thread I just purchased the book on my Kindle. My oldest dd has asked to read it as well. I will say that after reading the descriptions and reviews that I wouldn't have assigned it at the elementary school age level. I wouldn't have stopped my dds from reading it but I wouldn't have pushed it on them. I'm fine with my 14 year old reading it though (which she has just started doing right now).

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"Liking" your post seemed wrong somehow, because there is no way to like the facts you mention. I am seriously puzzled about the entire discussion.

I read the book. I am puzzled and troubled by the discussion. The book won the 2012 Newberry Honor Award. When my kids are Middle School age I would rather they read Breaking Stalin's Nose than books like the Hunger Games.

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I read this book too and really enjoyed it. I didn't read through the whole thread, but the point of the book was the boy changing his mind about Stalinism and communism. I think it's one of the better books in showing how a character changes through a story. Without reading the end, you miss that.

I am not Russian, but I studied in the Crimea in college.

I don't see how it could be labeled as propaganda. It was giving an accurate portrayal of how some (not all) people in the Soviet Union were drawn in by the system.

When I lived there (after the fall of communism), maybe people were harkening back to communism as the "glory days," so it's not entirely inaccurate to say that many people in Stalin's time were like the main character.

I also enjoy Whelan's work. She's a wonderful writer as well.

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I read this book a few years ago, when it was first published, so my memory is a little fuzzy.

I don't see how the book is an insult to Soviet people or propaganda. I remember a story that was not sugar coated and gut wrenching to read at times. A look, melding history and fiction, at just what life might have been like at that time and in that place.

I can understand not wanting a very young child to read it but I remember being pleased there was a historical story from that time period and place that I could have my kids read when we study that time period.

 

 

This.  I didn't see the book as mocking, either.   It is so interesting how people take such different things away from the same book.

 

I thought the book was brilliant.  It described a very dark, historical period without wasting words and without being too graphic.  I thought it was very appropriate for my young teen.

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Did anyone else have an instructor give you The Lottery to read with preparation? 

 

Actually, we watched a video without preparation (and we all hated it and wondered why we watched it!)

 

I looked up the samples on Amazon & actually think this might be a good book to read and discuss with my high schoolers. I think it will raise issues for them to think about with regard to communisim in general in ways that non-fiction hasn't communicated--in addition of course to learning what life was really like under Stalin.

 

I can see why one wouldn't necessarily want to read/discuss with elementary aged students (and it's a good example of when "reading level" and "emotional maturity" don't line up). This wasn't in Core F when we did it, and I find it's placement there somewhat odd (I'd expect it more in a "history" core than a "geography" one.)

 

I wonder, Hunter, if it's largely the illustrations that bother you--and if you would have had the same reaction to the book without pictures? It's not a style of illustration that I really care for in the first place, and they do strike me (the ones I could see in the sample) as garish, larger-than-life--perhaps the way a child might have seen the adults involved. To me they look more "creepy" than "mocking," but I can see how they could be disturbing either way. 

 

I'm so sorry about the loss of your son. Thank you for sharing your story. (((Hugs)))

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I am also going to purchase this book after reading through this thread. Based on the description, it sounds like it might be similar to the Red Scarf Girl which gives profound insight into life under Mao from a 12 yr old girl's real life experiences.

 

Regentrude and Road Runner, my heartfelt sympathies go out to your families. I cannot fathom having parents, grandparents, friends, and extended families that lived through such horrors. Thank you for sharing your personal accounts. I am one who is thankful for survivors who can give a glimpse into what that reality was like so that those who suffered are not forgotten and that we are reminded that humanity has not evolved beyond barbaric even today. We must be diligent and remain outraged when people say things that whitewash any of these atrocities bc history has a way of rewriting itself so that comments about men like these being inspiring doesn't cause more than a ripple.

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I am also going to purchase this book after reading through this thread. Based on the description, it sounds like it might be similar to the Red Scarf Girl which gives profound insight into life under Mao from a 12 yr old girl's real life experiences.

 

Regentrude and Road Runner, my heartfelt sympathies go out to your families. I cannot fathom having parents, grandparents, friends, and extended families that lived through such horrors. Thank you for sharing your personal accounts. I am one who is thankful for survivors who can give a glimpse into what that reality was like so that those who suffered are not forgotten and that we are reminded that humanity has not evolved beyond barbaric even today. We must be diligent and remain outraged when people say things that whitewash any of these atrocities bc history has a way of rewriting itself so that comments about men like these being inspiring doesn't cause more than a ripple.

I agree with the above; especially the bold.

 

Hunter, I am sorry you are having problems with the book, but I want to thank you for starting this tread. I have decided, after reading the long preview at Amazon also, to purchase this book. I will have to decide if I agree about waiting till my dd is a teen as she will be about 9 1/2 when we get to it. I look at the age of the character, and the children he represents and think ----he (they) LIVED thru it. Maybe I will let my dd read thru it. We'll see. 

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I first read The Lottery in a homeless shelter. A nice rich lady came in to share her culture with us and help us rise above our sad circumstances. It was a poor choice of literature for a group of traumatized and mentally ill women, especially with no preparation.

 

In real life, every encounter with any authority figure is just one long threat assessment for me. So I knew something was up as soon as the photocopies of the story were handed around. The instructor was on edge and bemused. My heart started to race, as I knew I was in the dark, and something was up. The other ladies all seemed to be more trusting. I began to worry about them as much as myself.

 

There was nothing in the beginning of the story to give me more clues, but the instructor was sending off more and more signals that something was up. Another lady started responding to the atmosphere and I think mostly to me. The ladies had begun to trust my radar. I was always the first to realize a threat.

 

The story started unfolding, but there were so few clues. The anxiety and confusion in the room increased. I was guessing something inappropriate and traumatizing and not understandable to my friends, but the instructor was actually starting to grin. I was angry at her. I felt preyed upon, and oh so protective of my friends. Bam, we had the ending. One lady cried. Some did not have the cognitive abilities to understand at all. Some of the manic and schizophrenic ladies had really unique conclusions. I was mad. Most of the ladies were mad. It was a poor choice for this group, even if it's a piece of cultural literature that the ruling minority feels is necessary to be part of the conversation.

 

I don't like being evaluated and judged when I don't have all the facts. I think as I read this book, I felt like I did during The Lottery. I knew there was more to the story, than a piece of historical literature aimed at 9-12, but I didn't know what it was. I wanted more information, before I read anymore. That's why I kept asking, "What genre is this?"

 

And, YES! The pictures had a HUGE affect on ME. I wonder what my impression of the book would have been without them.

 

I started Birchbark House. Now, THAT is 9-12 historical fiction! I'm not sure how wide the genre of historical fiction is, but Breaking Stalin's Nose is not a typical 9-12 historical fiction novel, just set in a traumatic period of history. It's a complex piece of literature. Birchbark house starts off with a crying baby crawling around dead bodies, while grown men row away from her and just leave her there alone to die. The smallpox epidemics were horrific. People's reactions were less than heroic sometimes as is evident on the first pages of Birchbark House. The authors handled unheroic events differently, though.

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I first read The Lottery in a homeless shelter. A nice rich lady came in to share her culture with us and help us rise above our sad circumstances. It was a poor choice of literature for a group of traumatized and mentally ill women, especially with no preparation.

 

 

I can NOT even imagine. How horrible. What was the lady even thinking? What a total lack of understanding, on so many levels. I'm speechless.

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I can NOT even imagine. How horrible. What was the lady even thinking? What a total lack of understanding, on so many levels. I'm speechless.

 

In both cities I have been homeless in, the top 1% try VERY hard to reach out the bottom 1%. Often they just don't know how. Being educated and being rich doesn't always give them common sense, and medical and psyche knowledge, or even sometimes compassion.

 

I have met a king, and the wives of famous sports players, and famous chefs, and so many other people and celebrities in homeless shelters and soup kitchens. It's been interesting, but sometimes has brought me and others to tears. I really didn't want to meet the King that day. I just wanted my lunch! One of his people REALLY scared me when she yelled at me for not standing up when he came into the room. And the hats from the football team were not only ugly, but too small for everyone. People mean well, I guess.

 

Talking about this book is like pulling off layers of an onion, as I slowly understand why this book was having such a big impact on me. it was triggering all sorts of past experiences, and definitely the reading of The Lottery. The more we chat about it, the more I can appreciate it as a work of art, but also I am digging in my heels that this piece of art–like many works of art–is only usable for certain audiences. 

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