The Raven’s Children

Yulia Yakovleva, Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

The Raven's Children
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The Raven’s Children

Yulia Yakovleva, Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Powerful historical fiction for fans of The Silver Sword and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Russia in 1938 is a place of great terror. Joseph Stalin is in charge. His Secret Police are everywhere, searching for anyone who might be his enemy. People have no idea who they can trust. Seven-year-old Shura doesn’t know about any of this. He’s happy in his little home in Leningrad going to school in the mornings, playing with his best friend in the afternoon, fighting with his big sister, spending time with his Mama, Papa and baby brother Bobka. Until one day everything changes. Mama and Papa and Bobka disappear without a trace. The whispers of their neighbours are that Mama and Papa were spies, enemies of Stalin and so they have now been taken by something mysterious called The Raven. Desperate to reunite his family, Shura decides to hunt down The Raven, finding help in the most unexpected places but facing more danger than he has ever known …

Review

Yulia Yakovleva was inspired by her own family’s experiences to write this children’s book about the trauma suffered by Soviet citizens under Stalin’s repressive regime.

The hero of this story is seven-year-old Shura. Shura’s parents are accused of being ‘enemies of the people’ and are abducted and imprisoned by the Raven and his cronies. Shunned by others, Shura becomes an outcast, invisible, yet precariously vulnerable. The Ravens are on the hunt and Shura is soon captured and thrown into a workhouse for children. Disturbing experiences are presented in a nonconfronting way, drawing on magical realism to step gently through the story – but there is also hope.

Highly recommended for readers who’ve enjoyed John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas or Zana Fraillon’s The Bone Sparrow.


Natalie Platten is the assistant manager and children’s book buyer at Readings Doncaster.

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