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A Boy Is Not a Bird
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A Boy Is Not a Bird
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A young boy named Natt finds his world overturned when his family is uprooted and exiled to Siberia during the occupation of the Soviet Ukraine by Nazi Germany. In 1941, life in Natt's small town of...
A young boy named Natt finds his world overturned when his family is uprooted and exiled to Siberia during the occupation of the Soviet Ukraine by Nazi Germany. In 1941, life in Natt's small town of...
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Description-

  • A young boy named Natt finds his world overturned when his family is uprooted and exiled to Siberia during the occupation of the Soviet Ukraine by Nazi Germany.

    In 1941, life in Natt's small town of Zastavna is comfortable and familiar, even if the grownups are acting strange, and his parents treat him like a baby. Natt knows there's a war on, of course, but he's glad their family didn't emigrate to Canada when they had a chance. His mother didn't want to leave their home, and neither did he. He especially wouldn't want to leave his best friend, Max. Max is the ideas guy, and he hears what's going on in the world from his older sisters. Together the boys are two brave musketeers.

    Then one day Natt goes home and finds his family huddled around the radio. The Russians are taking over. The churches and synagogues will close, Hebrew school will be held in secret, and there are tanks and soldiers in the street. But it's exciting, too. Natt wants to become a Young Pioneer, to show outstanding revolutionary spirit and make their new leader, Comrade Stalin, proud.

    But life under the Russians is hard. The soldiers are poor. They eat up all the food and they even take over Natt's house. Then Natt's father is arrested, and even Natt is detained and questioned. He feels like a nomad, sleeping at other people's houses while his mother works to free his father. As the adults try to protect him from the reality of their situation, and local authorities begin to round up deportees bound for Siberia, Natt is filled with a sense of guilt and grief.

    Why wasn't he brave enough to look up at the prison window when his mother took him to see his father for what might be the last time? Or can just getting through war be a heroic act in itself?

    Key Text Features
    historical note
    map
    author's note

    Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.3
    Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    "When countries are fighting," my mother says, "there can be a lot of confusion. You can't predict from one day to the next what will happen. Imagine a flock of birds sitting together quietly on a haystack, enjoying the fine weather. A dog runs up to them and begins to bark, and with a big squawk and a tangle of wings they all disperse, up, up in the sky, in different directions. The war is the barking dog. But the birds will eventually come together again, and everything will resume as before."

    My father nods. "Yes, exactly. And war is when you get a chance to be a hero. Because every day that you get through it, you've done something heroic."

About the Author-

  • EDEET RAVEL is an award-winning author of books for both young readers and adults. Her YA novel, Held, was nominated for the CLA Young Adult Book Award and the Arthur Ellis Crime Award, and her YA novel, The Saver, has been adapted for film and received awards around the world. Her novels for adults have won the Hugh MacLennan Prize and the Jewish Book Award and have been nominated for the Governor General's Award and the Giller Prize. Edeet was born on an Israeli kibbutz and holds a PhD in Jewish Studies from McGill University.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 23, 2019
    Opening in the summer of 1940, as Russian Communists take over 11-year-old Natt’s hometown, Zastavna , this well-paced novel from Ravel (The Cat) follows Natt’s loving family and supportive Jewish community through increasingly invasive changes. As the months progress, he loses his home, town, and, finally, his country when he and his mother are among those deported to Siberia in the summer of 1941. Aptly describing himself as a “go-along-type of boy,” multilingual Natt initially focuses on how each change affects his daily routines and comforts: when Russian teachers replace their strict instructor, for example, Natt and his best friend Max—whose friendship is warmly, credibly depicted—are delighted. Natt enthusiastically takes on the opportunity to shine as a Pioneer, loyal to Stalin and the Communist cause, but his naiveté slowly fades as deprivations and cruelties intensify. With a big heart and developing intellect, Natt is an endearing figure, and secondary characters are equally well drawn, especially his eternally optimistic mother. The final scene leaves Natt’s future unresolved, but back matter explains that the novel, based on the experiences of Ravel’s fifth grade teacher, is the first title in a planned trilogy. Ages 9–12.

  • Kirkus

    August 15, 2019
    When his Romanian town becomes part of Soviet Ukraine in 1940, how long can Natt's naiveté last? Eleven-year-old, asthmatic, Jewish Natt is happy in Zastavna, where he speaks five languages. There's German at home, Ukrainian to speak to his Ukrainian neighbors, Hebrew from his secular, Zionist Hebrew school, Yiddish to talk to some of his Jewish neighbors, and, of course, Romanian at school. When Soviets take over Zastavna, Natt's excited to learn Russian, too. He's pleased about many changes the Soviets bring: The meanest teacher is gone, the new teacher is nice (if oddly nervous), and Natt will soon be a Pioneer with a red kerchief. But not all the changes are good. The Russians take over Natt's house, and there's never food anymore. Though Natt's torn between the cynicism of his best friend and his mother's attempts to paint a rosier picture, he sees the grim truth when his father is sent to a Siberian gulag. Soon Natt, too, is arrested, and this once-proud Pioneer is deemed "an Enemy of the People" and deported to Siberia with his mother. Basing her story on the experience of a beloved teacher, Ravel has Natt tell his own story in an ingenuous present tense that never loses its youthful quality even as it gains wisdom. Though a historical note focuses on Hitler, Natt never encounters the horrors of Nazis. An accessible gateway to mid-20th-century Eastern European history. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 8-11)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Kirkus Reviews Basing her story on the experience of a beloved teacher, Ravel has Natt tell his own story in an ingenuous present tense that never loses its youthful quality even as it gains wisdom. . . . An accessible gateway to mid-20th-century Eastern European history.

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