Breaking Stalin's Nose

Eugene Yelchin; illustrations by Eugene Yelchin

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

One of Horn Book’s Best Fiction Books of 2011
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.


Read an Excerpt

Breaking Stalin's Nose
1MY 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



  • Eugene Yelchin accepts the Newbery Honor

    Author Eugene Yelchin thanks the 2012 Newbery Committee for selecting BREAKING STALINS NOSE as an Honor book

  • Breaking Stalin's Nose Book Trailer

    Watch the book trailer for Newbery Honor BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE.



Praise for Breaking Stalin's Nose

“Mr. Yelchin has compressed into two days of events an entire epoch, giving young readers a glimpse of the precariousness of life in a capricious yet ever-watchful totalitarian state.” –Wall Street Journal


“A miracle of brevity, this affecting novel zeroes in on two days and one boy to personalize Stalin's killing machine of the '30s. …black-and-white drawings march across the pages to juxtapose hope and fear, truth and tyranny, small moments and historical forces, innocence and evil. This Newbery Honor book offers timeless lessons about dictatorship, disillusionment and personal choice.” --San Francisco Chronicle


"The cat-and-mouse chase that pits Sasha’s whole world against him will rivet middle-grade readers, but this title will hold special appeal for older students whose grasp of content outstrips their reading proficiency." --BCCB
"Picture book author/illustrator Yelchin (Won Ton) makes an impressive middle-grade debut with this compact novel about a devoted young Communist in Stalin-era Russia, illustrated with dramatically lit spot art." --Publishers Weekly
“…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.” --Horn Book, starred review

“Yelchin’s graphite illustrations are an effective complement to his prose, which unfurls in Sasha’s steady, first-person voice, and together they tell an important tale.” --Kirkus

"Yelchin skillfully combines narrative with dramatic black-and-white illustrations to tell the story of life in the Soviet Union under Stalin.” --SLJ

In the Press

BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE by Eugene Yelchin, Eugene YelchinKirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE . "There's no place for the likes of you in our class," Sasha Zaichik's teacher tells him, and that seems to be the motto of the whole Stalinist nation.
- Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Eugene Yelchin; illustrations by Eugene Yelchin

  • Eugene Yelchin has illustrated several books for children, including Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? and Won Ton. He lives in California with his wife and children.
  • Eugene Yelchin
    Eugene Yelchin



Discussion Guide


Available Formats and Book Details

Breaking Stalin's Nose

Eugene Yelchin; illustrations by Eugene Yelchin

Newbery Honor Book, American Library Association Notable Children's Books, Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children's Literature (Women's, Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens


Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)