Publishers Weekly - Publishers WeeklyThis book by Skrypuch and Martchenko, who collaborated on Enough (2000), another tale recounting the hardships endured by the Ukrainian people, was their first effort-published in Canada in 1996 and now available in the U.S. Here they reveal a page in Canadian history, based on the author's grandparents' experience. Husband and wife Ivan and Anna escape persecution in an occupied Ukraine for promises of plenty across the ocean in Canada. Using door hinges and a pane of glass brought from their old house, the couple builds "a one-room home amid the wilderness.... And a tiny black spider nestled in a corner, spinning its threads of silver." The adult characters, dense text and numerous plot developments involving historical events with which most American youngsters will not be familiar, may lose the audience. For instance, when Ivan tries to become a Canadian soldier at the outbreak of WWI, officials shackle him and intern him as an enemy of his new country. Martchenko's realistic paintings add cultural flavor (e.g., Anna's flower print babushka, detailed illustrations of holiday meals), but the characters at times exhibit an almost caricature-like appearance. Readers may benefit from the general lessons of injustice and hope, but much of the story's context will be lost without an adult on hand to explain it (e.g., how does the couple escape the emperor's soldiers and manage passage on a ship to Canada?). Ages 8-11. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's LiteratureLove conquers all in this timeless story about war. The ambitious scope includes fascist oppression, marital teamwork, and an unacknowledged retelling of "The Christmas Spider" legend (on which the title is based). Anna and Ivan are refugees from World War I Ukraine. They leave their home to make a peaceful life across the ocean, but find adversity instead when their new country, Canada, joins the conflict. Ukraine is part of the opposing forces and an official arrests Ivan as the enemy. When Ivan is interred in a far away camp, Anna must defend their homestead alone not knowing if she will ever see her husband again. Martchenko's illustrations are warm and authentic. They convey the beauty of Ukrainian culture and the hardship of frontier living. The text feels slightly less organic, but repeated mentions of teamwork and the benevolent spider make the book understandable for younger children. It is a good read aloud, and an age appropriate description of civilians caught in war. 2004 (orig. 1996), Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Ages 8 to 11.
- Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 10.32(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.41(d)
- Age Range:
- 8 - 11 Years
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