"Picture book author/illustrator Yelchin 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. Through Sasha's fresh and optimistic voice, Yelchin powerfully renders an atmosphere of fear that forces false confessions, even among schoolchildren, and encourages neighbors and family members to betray one another without evidence. Readers will quickly pick up on the dichotomy between Sasha's ardent beliefs and the reality of life under Stalinism, and be glad for his ultimate disillusion, even as they worry for his future."

–Publishers Weekly

"Yelchin skillfully combines narrative with dramatic black-and-white illustrations to tell the story of life in the Soviet Union under Stalin. While the story was obviously created to shed light on the oppression, secrecy, and atrocities under Stalin’s regime, Sasha’s emotions ring true. This is an absorbing, quick, multilayered read in which predictable and surprising events intertwine. Yelchin clearly dramatizes the dangers of blindly believing in anything."

–School Library Journal

“…this is serious, sophisticated stuff. 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.”

–The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 

“In his first novel, [Yelchin] uses the child’s innocent viewpoint to dramatize the heartbreaking secrets and lies. The present-tense narrative is true to the young kid’s naive viewpoint…”


"This serious book is so gripping that it will not leave your mind for quite a while. Children with no knowledge of the Stalinist regime will wonder about it (and maybe check online to find out more) while others will simply see it for the cautionary tale that it is. Either way, Yelchin’s award winner will serve as a 1984 for the grade school set and will be an important conversation starter that teaches the nature of innocence in a time of great evil."

–The Jewish Journal

"Sasha’s story is both a coming-of-age tale as well as a survival story that is heartbreaking and thought-provoking. It offers a poignant message about the value of freedom in a society, an important message to share."

–Wausau Daily Herald

“…transcends time and place… touching, beautiful and important.”

–Palo Alto Daily News

“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

“Dramatic, moving and disturbing novel.”

-The Times Herald


“A children’s book about the political tyranny, social injustices, and widespread suffering and suspicion of the Stalinist regime is a rare find. A children’s book that narrates experiences during this time from the first-person perspective of a ten-year old child who goes from beguilement to utter disillusionment is a gem. Eugene Yelchin’s debut novel does more than that. Breaking Stalin’s Nose is teeming with possibilities for classroom discussions about civics, ethics, history, and social responsibility, and its brief chapters, lucid prose, and mesmerizing illustrations will entice even elementary school readers to delve into these issues.”

The Classroom Bookshelf

“There are so many things that could be done with this book. The most logical choice is to use this book in a history or government class to introduce students to Communism, Stalin, and the concept of Fascism or Totalitarianism.”

—YA Book Bridges

“Author Eugene Yelchin writes with the authority, experience, and emotion of one who lived in Stalin's Russia. Teachers who want students to enjoy the very best of historical fiction that pulls the reader into history through a compelling story will make this book part of their classroom libraries.”

—Kids’ Wings

“Yelchin captures Sasha's innocence beautifully - the reader knows far more than he does, and can see where the story is going.... but one hopes because one has grown to truly love this little boy. The nightmarish unraveling of Sasha's life makes for powerful reading.  His story also allows us to ask important questions about power, fear and what we take to be true. Yelchin's illustrations are nothing short of remarkable - he has a way of capturing facial expressions that reveal complex thought, joy, hope and terror.  These illustrations lent so much to the book's reading experience.”

—A Teaching Life

"This is not the story with a happy ending, but one of truth."

—We Know Books

“This is a great, thought-provoking read… the sort of book that sticks with you for days after you read it.”

—Kid Lit Geek

“I loved Sasha. I loved seeing the world through his eyes, even as that world shattered. My heart broke for him.”

—Biblio File

“…completely gripping story… a genius approach… I think it’s a credit to Yelchin’s writing ability that he can make us empathize with a boy with whom we have ostensibly very little in common. Yelchin, through young Sasha, gets to the heart of why this period of Russian history is known as The Great Terror.”

—Thick and Thin Things

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin is, in a word, fabulous. Russian-born Yelchin has created a powerful and revealing story about the effects of propaganda and indoctrination. Unsettling yet too absorbing to put down, Breaking Stalin’s Nose renews readers’ appreciation for living in a free and democratic society. The narrative, while simple, is elegant and is suitable for those aged far beyond the main character’s ten years. The book’s unassuming size should not deceive anyone – this is “required-reading” material.”

—Portland Book Review

“There is so little literature about Communism available for students that this book is a necessary addition just for the subject matter alone. The fact that it won a Newbery Honor only stresses the book’s importance.”

—Challenging the Bookworm

"Sasha’s story is one that many young readers will not know, and Yelchin’s simple, yet powerful, depiction of life under Stalin’s rule will captivate readers—and break their hearts even as they root for Sasha to learn the truth. The spot illustrations have a slightly ominous tone to them that counteracts Sasha’s optimism and gives young readers clues to the difference between reality and Sasha’s perception of it.

This book will be a valuable resource for history, and it may also be an interesting choice to introduce the idea of an unreliable narrator. Highly recommended."

—Mackin Books in Bloom

“I loved this book about a young boy’s devotion to Stalin and Communism – until his life begins to unravel – this one will be on the middle school’s summer reading list.”

–Sommer Reading

“This is a wonderful little book for anyone in search of an affecting story – or of insight into an era that is so often neglected in our convenient reimagining of history.”

–Historical Novel Society

“Captivating… a must-read… stunning black and white pictures.”

—Literary Lunchbox

“Far too little attention has been paid … to the crimes committed in the name of Communism. So I applaud Eugene Yelchin for writing this book, Henry Holt and Company for publishing it, and the American Library Assosiation for giving it a Newbery Honor award.”

—Chicago Boyz

“…a beautiful meld of text and image, told with economy and precision.”

—Redeemed Reader

“Yelchin does an excellent job capturing fear, paranoia, and the dark humor of the USSR during Stalin’s reign. An excellent choice for children interested in Soviet history. I would also recommend to a parent or a teacher trying to show student what a society is like without freedoms and liberty.”

—Tesser Well

“This powerful short novel is a quick read for middle school students but it is anything but light in content. … powerful and thought-provoking. The expressive black and white illustrations add a dimension to the story that words cannot.”

—The Bethlehem Bookshelf

“The author packs a lot of emotion and makes the reader question ideas just as Sasha begins to.”

—The QuickWitLitnicks of Springfield-Greene County

“I’m going to push this book on everyone I know, because it’s brilliant, stunning and fully deserves the shiny sticker on its jacket. This book will hit you hard.”

—Reads For Keeps

“Brilliantly conceived… funny and heartbreaking at the same time… definitely fills a gap in literature.”

—The Fourth Musketeer

“A book to be read together as a family.”

—Whale of a Tale Books

"The issues raised in Breaking Stalin's Nose are far deeper than a didactic 'Communism is bad and Capitalism is good', and the situations and choices the characters face are relevant beyond their immediate setting. This title would make a fantastic classroom or book group discussion selection."

—Ann Arbor District Library

“Yelchin’s prose… does achieve a keeness of child perspective that is respectful of its readers… Stand out especially in its eerie, open ending.”

—Mock Newbery Blog

“Through Sasha’s innocent eyes, Yelchin lays bare the heartbreaking secrets, lies, and day-to-day terror that colored the world he remembers.”

—Youth Fiction Review

“Sasha is a character that I think will stay with readers for a long time, as will the question of just how hard it is to turn your back on everything you’ve spent your entire life believing—even if your entire life is just a few years.”

—Kelly Vision

“It is an eye-opening book that shows the impact of propaganda… should not be missed.”

—Diary of an Eccentric

“…contains layers of difficult issues – you don’t normally see many historical fiction stories for children like this, and it’s probably the gentlest introduction to this era that you’ll find. Sasha has so many illusions that are obvious to the reader, and it’s poignant to see them broken. …would make an excellent classroom read-aloud.”

—Howling Frogs Books

Breaking Stalin's Nose is a quick read that leaves a lasting impact. Although it's about a dark time in Russia's history, the book contains just enough lightness to keep modern-day kids reading. Breaking Stalin's Nose also contains enough depth to really make kids think. Highly recommended.”

—Jen Robinson’s Book Page

“This book is unique — a look into life under a historic, totalitarian regime written for children as young as 8. It would be an excellent read-aloud for a parent and child to discuss.”

—Centre Daily

“Yelchin’s story has immediate and chilling impact for readers. …tautly told and worthy of sharing in a classroom or family setting. There is sure to be much discussion that is pertinent to the world we live in today.”

—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“The most remarkable thing about the book is the author’s ability to immerse the reader in the naive mindset of a child raised in a socialist society. I was absolutely riveted by the entire story, and worried, as events progressed, for Sasha’s future. Yelchin used humor very carefully, but very effectively, to keep hope alive for the reader, even in very dark and disturbing moments.”

—Secrets & Sharing Soda

“Yelchin writes with acerbic wit that is complimented by the simplicity of his style, and his choice of a young narrator makes the sharp contrast between reality and the constant supply of suspicions and conspiracy even more stunning. Sasha’s eager, naïve descriptions of life in the USSR offer his more perceptive audience insight that is often both priceless for its wry humor and painful for its truthfulness.”

—Working Group for Study of Russian Children's Literature and Culture

“… a look into the Cold War that just might send readers looking for more.”

—Mrs. Katz’s Book Blurbs

“ …exquisitely portrays Sasha's awakening to the corruption and oppression in Stalinist Russia while retaining a convincing child-centric point-of-view. Chilling, fascinating, and at times horrifying.”


“A stunning, powerful, and most thought-provoking novel, Breaking Stalin’s Nose isn’t just about Stalin and Communism but also acts as an important warning to the people of today.”

–Greatest Books for Kids blog

“Yelchin does a masterful job of slowly exposing Sasha's naïveté throughout the course of the book - and exposing the sinister underpinnings of the system Sasha trusted explicitly. …with an adult's guidance and discussion, this book can be a powerful tool in helping children (and adults) understand how people survive in hostile dictatorships.”

–Healthy Homes Blog

“…deceptively simple, yet… realistically captures the Stalinist period.”

–Library Thing

“Yelchin heightens the message of this powerful middle-grade book with drawings that darken as the story darkens.”

–City Book Review

“…a great overview into Stalinist Russia… historical fiction that could appeal to even reluctant readers and the themes make it an excellent choice for classroom discussions”.

–Adrienne’s Book Blog

“…riveting story… an achievement.”

–The Children’s Book Compass

“Yelchin captures the fear that people lived in under the Stalin’s regime, yet he also shows the resiliency of the human spirit. This is a powerful book about freedom, Russia, and the young boy’s path to knowledge.”

–Walking Brain Cells

“Full of suspense, twists and turns…”

—Dayton Metro Library

“There are many lessons a student can learn from this book about compassion, true camaraderie, and the poison of false accusations.”

—Book Pushin’ Cats 

Breaking Stalin’s Nose will be of interest to educators, teachers, librarians, parents and children for providing a link between the understanding of ideological power and its crucial consequences. It also provides discourse on cultural diversity and the perception of Otherness. It will also serve as a source of research for scholars and graduate students interested in the history of the Soviet Union, Stalinism, ideological regimes and their culture, as well as post-Soviet representations of the Soviet Union’s in children’s literature.”


“The horrors of the Great Terror are told aslant here, in a child's-size tale of a young boy's disillusionment and the loss of all he has. It would be well for the youngsters among us to know what others have suffered and do suffer in other lands. This book is a great starting point.”

–Provo City Library Children’s Book Review

“This is an unusual topic for grade school, but a lesson about blind belief still relevant. A quick and chilling read…”

–Capitol Choices Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens

"I began the book hesitantly. Instantly, I was hooked. Yelchin's stark monochromatic illustrations provide intensity, action, and insight amidst the tension of the text."

—Extended Shelf Life

"This short chapter book has wonderfully atmospheric black and white illustrations, and is a page-turning thriller based on historical facts."

—Finders Readers

“This book is going to be a hit with history buffs and especially with the boys… the story deserves to be continued.”

—Will Follow White Rabbits

“A great example of quality children’s literature.”

—Kim Harris Thacker Blog

“…Very real and very relevant.”

—Kane Resource Site

Breaking stalin's nose had me from the first chapter… will definitely provide many opportunities for important discussions.”

—Read It Again, Mom

“Great historical fiction.”

—Guys Read  

“…Powerful as well as heartbreaking.”

—The Potomac School

“ …nightmarish labyrinth worthy of Kafka. …chilling, suspenseful and utterly unforgettable.”


“The trepidation and fear that everyone feels surrounds the story, and the graphite drawn pictures sprinkled throughout evoke the darkened era experienced by all in the story.”

–Meridian Magazine

“Sasha's story is not one I had ever read before. That this is a ten-year-old makes the story even more riveting.”

–Next Best Book

“Yelchin’s novel…carries a message that resonates with readers of all ages. It could apply to any dictatorial government or ideology, past or present.”

–Young Hero Buzz

“ Beautifiully written and discussion worthy… eye-opening.”

–Story Snoops

“I’ve read it and I’m a believer: this is a great novel for children.”

–Emily Brown Blog

“A good read, clearly written to make children think about life.”