Breaking Stalin’s Nose

Title: Breaking Stalin’s Nose
Author: Eugene Yelchin
Publisher: Square Fish
ISBN: 1250034108
Rating: 3.5/5 stars


  • Horn Book’s Best Fiction Books of 2011
  • 2012 Newbery Honor Book (American Library Association)
  • 2012 Junior Library Guild Selection
  • 2012 Distinguished Work of Historical Fiction Award (Children’s Literature Council of Southern California)
  • 2012 Women’s National Book Association’s Judy Lopez Memorial Award
  • 2013 KS William Allen White Award
  • The Best Children’s Books of 2011 by the Horn Book Magazine
  • The Best Children’s Books of 2011 by Washington Post
  • 2012 Capitol Choices Book, Noteworthy Books for Children
  • 2012 Top Ten Historical Fiction for Youth by Booklist
  • 2012 NY Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year
  • 2012 Finalist for California Book Awards
  • 2012 Michigan Library Association Mitten Award
  • 2011 Editor’s Choice by Historical Novel Society
  • 2011 Nominated for Cybills Children’s and YA Bloggers’ Literary Awards
  • 2011 Nominated for Best Fiction by Young Adult Library Association


Perfect for the young middle schooler, Breaking Stalin’s Nose  describes the frightening life lived by many during Stalin’s reign.  Beginning with complete devotion to the government, Velchin tracks a young boy’s maturation and world-discovery over the course of no more than a few days.  The book opens with the main character, Sasha Zeichik writing a passionate fan letter of sorts to Stalin himself.  However, soon his father is taken away by the government without explanation.  Armed with cryptic message from dad, Sasha spends the next day discovering the truth of this country he thought he held dear.  Creating a strong mental picture of the reign of Stalin, Velchin unwraps a portion of history appropriately detailed and focused toward young middle grades students.  The excitement and quick pace of the story will keep reluctant readers involved, and all will glean a bit of history from this entertaining story.

Review Excerpt:

This brief novel gets at the heart of a society that asks its citizens, even its children, to report on relatives and friends. Appropriately menacing illustrations by first-time novelist Yelchin add a sinister tone.” —The Horn Book, starred review via Amazon


Have students compare and contrast Breaking Stalin’s Nose with Inside Out and Back Again to see two different views of Communist society.


Amazon. 2014. “Breaking Stalin’s Nose.”

Eugene Yelchin Books. 2014. “Breaking Stalin’s Nose.”

Yelchin, Eugene. 2011. Breaking Stalin’s Nose. New York: Square Fish.


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