Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 8 to 12
- Grade: 3 to 7
Ukrainian Canadian author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch tells a gripping story of how the Soviet Union starved the Ukrainian people in the 1930s -- and of their determination to overcome.
Nyl is just trying to stay alive. Ever since the Soviet dictator, Stalin, started to take control of farms like the one Nyl's family lives on, there is less and less food to go around. On top of bad harvests and a harsh winter, conditions worsen until it's clear the lack of food is not just chance... but a murderous plan leading all the way to Stalin.
Alice has recently arrived from Canada with her father, who is here to work for the Soviets... until they realize that the people suffering the most are all ethnically Ukrainian, like Nyl. Something is very wrong, and Alice is determined to help.
Desperate, Nyl and Alice come up with an audacious plan that could save both of them -- and their community. But can they survive long enough to succeed?
Known as the Holodomor, or death by starvation, Ukraine's Famine-Genocide in the 1930s was deliberately caused by the Soviets to erase the Ukrainian people and culture. Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch brings this lesser-known, but deeply resonant, historical world to life in a story about unity, perseverance, and the irrepressible hunger to survive.
About the author
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch est l’auteure d’une dizaine de livres dont Cher Journal : Prisonniers de la grande forêt, Enfant volée, Soldat clandestin et Faire des bombes pour Hitler. Elle a remporté de nombreux prix et est l’une des auteures canadiennes de romans historiques pour les jeunes les plus respectées. L’écriture de Marsha met en relief son héritage ukrainien. Elle a reçu l’Ordre de la princesse Olga de la part du président ukrainien. Elle vit à Brantford, en Ontario.
MARSHA FORCHUK SKRYPUCH is the author of more than a dozen books, including Dear Canada: Prisoners in the Promised Land, Stolen Child, Making Bombs for Hitler, Underground Soldier and Don’t Tell the Enemy. She has won many awards for her work and is one of Canada’s most respected authors of historical fiction for young people. Much of Marsha’s writing focuses on stories from her Ukrainian heritage, and she has been presented with the Order of Princess Olha by the President of Ukraine and named a Canadian Ukrainian Woman of Distinction. Marsha lives in Brantford, Ontario. Visit her online at www.calla.com.
Praise for Traitors Among Us:
* "Told in alternating chapters narrated in the first person by Ukrainian sisters Krystia, 16, and Maria, 14, this gripping novel tells a lesser-known story of the war's horror... this is ultimately a story of the strength of the human spirit. Krystia and Maria are survivors, and they never give up, drawing strength from remembering their parents' belief in them as they struggle to stay alive. Gripping, harsh, and superbly written." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Praise for Don't Tell the Nazis:
"The first-person account, based on the real-life Krystia's memories as told to Skrypuch, reads like a memoir; despite the historically accurate body count, it retains a sense of hope. An accessible entry in a crowded, vital field, honoring those who risked everything to save others." -- Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Stolen Girl:
"The author once again deftly sheds light on lesser-known aspects of the Ukrainian experience during WWII . . . A gripping exploration of war-induced trauma, identity, and transformation." -- Kirkus Reviews
"A fascinating, compelling read." -- Booklist
"In addition to helping children understand conditions that immigrants face in current times, this stands as a deeply personal, relatable study of the long-term psychological effects of war on children, making it a useful addition to a Holocaust or World War II curriculum." -- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Excellent back matter . . . gives context to Nadia's story . . . This is a strong addition to World War II historical fiction collections, shining a light on a little-known aspect of the Nazi regime's insidious programs." -- School Library Journal
Praise for The War Below:
"Skrypuch offers a compelling, visceral novel of survival that provides an unusual view of the war... The suspenseful story carries the reader along to its satisfying conclusion." -- Booklist
"Skrypuch continues to shed light on the double jeopardy that many Ukrainians experienced... A page-turning window into a complex piece of World War II history." -- Kirkus Reviews
"This story, full of numerous acts of compassion and valor, sheds welcome light on a less familiar battleground of World War II." -- Publishers Weekly
"A riveting read." -- YA Books Central
Praise for Making Bombs for Hitler:
"A gripping story that asks: What would you do to survive?" -- Alan Gratz, New York Times bestselling author of Refugee
"Inspired by real, historical accounts, this is a powerful, harrowing story of transformation." -- Booklist
"Skrypuch draws on real-life stories of survivors in telling Lida's poignant tale, and she creates a cast of young people who are devoted to one another in both thought and deed.... A well-told story of persistence, lost innocence, survival, and hope." -- Kirkus Reviews
"The story [has a] strong undercurrent of friendship and loyalty; an author's note gives further background on this important piece of history." -- Publishers Weekly
"Students will admire Lida's pluck amid such heinous conditions.... An absorbing read about the lesser-known Ukrainian experience during World War II, this is a solid choice for curricular ties and for middle school historical fiction collections." -- School Library Journal
"Skrypuch has written a gripping, emotional novel of one Ukrainian girl's perseverance during the horrors of war.... This is a vivid picture of what youth experienced during World War II and the hopelessness of displaced populations of all backgrounds and religions." -- Voice of Youth Advocates
Other titles by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Adrift at Sea
A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival
Traitors Among Us
Don't Tell the Nazis
Faire des bombes pour Hitler
Trapped in Hitler's Web
The War Below
Sky of Bombs, Sky of Stars
A Vietnamese War Orphan Finds Home
Ne dis rien à l’ennemi
Too Young to Escape
A Vietnamese Girl Waits to be Reunited with Her Family