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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Arcady's Goal by Newbery Honor-winning author and illustrator Eugene Yelchin (Breaking Stalin's Nose) is a thoughtful look at the psychological violence of the Stalinist era. Arcady, orphaned by the execution of his parents, is labeled an enemy of the people and ostracized. His adoptive father also is treated dismissively because of his wife's political execution. Although there's no violence in the story, the threat of violence and loss pervades the narrative.
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What's the story?
In Stalin-era Russia, a boy named Arcady has lived in state-run "homes" for orphans since his parents were arrested when he was a toddler. He's the best soccer player in his camp, playing for food rations with makeshift goals. When inspectors visit, Arcady is told to impress them with his talent – until one of the inspectors halts the violent game. The inspector, Ivan Ivanych, returns to adopt Arcady, who hopes Ivanych is really a soccer coach who will help him achieve his dream: to play on the Red Army Soccer Team. Ivanych proves a disappointment as a soccer coach, but his heart -- and his yearning to live and love fully -- are a revelation for Arcady.
Is it any good?
Yelchin, whose personal history is entwined with Russia's, writes with great compassion. In ARCADY'S GOAL, Yelchin revisits the frightening, traumatic period he wrote about in Breaking Stalin's Nose. His narrator this time is a bold boy the government would like to keep hidden away, but his audacious personality and talent are hard to contain. Arcady needs some softening, and Ivanych needs some strength. There's no miraculous perfect ending in store for them -- just the quiet happiness of a connection that preserves their humanity and hope.
Yelchin's nuanced, intriguing black-and-white illustrations underscore the emotional resonance of the story. A sequence of three full-spread illustrations as Arcady settles into his new life is particularly graceful and touching.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Author: Eugene Yelchin
- Illustrator: Eugene Yelchin
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.
- Publication date: October 14, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 240
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: March 8, 2021
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