Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Working Towards Freedom

Like most twelve-year-olds, Ivan wants to spend his time having fun with his friends and playing his concertina. When German forces take Leningrad, his life is changed forever. Not only do bombs destroy everything and make food scarce, but his mother gets sent to work in the mountains, and Ivan must travel across the frozen lake to a village. It's lucky for him that he is traveling with "Auntie" who has been preparing for tough times and can show Ivan necessary skills for survival. He barely has time to adjust to his new home when he decides he wants to be a partisan, a group of people working underground to overthrow the Germans from Russia. Being a partisan is dangerous, but Ivan swears he is up for the challenge. When the evil Major Axel Recht hears Ivan play the concertina, he orders him to come to the Nazi base and play for him and the other men. Ivan is introduced to Zasha and Thor, two German Shepherds who belong to Axel. Ivan can’t bear to see the dogs hurt during their training sessions and he vows to take them away to help the partisans. Will Ivan’s plan work? Will he get caught? What price will Ivan pay for his actions? Is it possible to save Zasha and Thor? Travel back in time and enjoy this interesting historical fiction book for middle grade readers.


I first heard about Finding Zasha by Randi Barrow from Alex at The Children’s War. I love to read about all the historical fiction books on her blog each week! This is a powerful book about a boy who wants to do what he can for his people. Ivan has to grow up quickly, but he faces each challenge with bravery. The characters in the story are all well-developed, and I can easily picture them. This book deals with World War II and the effects that it had on the residents of Russia. Reading about Ivan’s drive to get his homeland back and the courageous acts he takes part in to help others makes this a great book for anyone in fifth and older. The details of the time period come alive and you have a better understanding of how difficult life was for everyone, even kids. I learned a lot about WWII and I loved seeing the characters work together toward a common goal. It is amazing what can be accomplished when we work together! At the end of the book, the author includes notes about her research. I liked reading the notes because it helped me to see what was real and what was made up. This story touched my heart. I look forward to reading the second book in this series, as I have heard Saving Zasha is even more action-packed! Take a journey back in time with Ivan. You will want to help others, and you will also be thankful for all that you have! .



Has anyone else read Finding Zasha? Or have you read another book by Randi Barrow? What did you think?

Happy Reading! ~L

30 comments:

  1. I haven't read much about WWII in Russia, so this sounds like an interesting read!

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  2. Though there seems to be quite a lot of this kind of historical fiction for this age range set either in the UK, Germany or even Poland I cannot think of one that is set in Russia.

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    1. Petty- I agree with you that I have never read another book that took place in Russia during WWII. ~L

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  3. Good review. Sounds like a very interesting book I will check out for Maggie. She was very interested in the Anne Frank story and recently visited the Holocaust Museum in D.C. and it did make an impression on her.

    I also love stories of that era. I was a child during WWII living in Texas in a sulfur company town surrounded by barbed wire and guards who stood in high towers with machine guns pointing down at us in cars as we checked in. Sulfur was a much needed ingredient of the war to make bombs and bullets and our town was very secured because of that. We had air raid drills regularly. War is no fun for children at all...or anyone else.

    I'm glad authors still write of the horrors of WWII so we never forget we don't want to go there again...ever!

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    1. Wow! Air raid drills sound scary and so do the guards. War times are not happy times that is for sure.

      I agree with you that it is important for authors to write about WWII so we don't ever forget the brave people who fought for their lives and the difficult times everyone went through.

      I hope Maggie enjoys this one. I think she will love it! :) ~L

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  4. This sounds like a really interesting read! Great review.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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    1. Gina- It is an interesting read. Glad you enjoyed the review. :) ~L

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  5. Great review! Thanks for posting! Looks interesting.

    Nas

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    1. Nas- Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the review. :) ~L

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  6. No, I haven't, but animal stories always made me bawl as a kid.

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    1. M.Pax- Animal stories make me bawl, too! This is a great book and a wonderful reminder to be kind to animals. :) ~L

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  7. I love German shepherds! I have two. :)

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    1. Kelly- I never knew! How awesome that you have two German shepherds. :) ~L

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  8. Sounds like a great book, WW II history ~ check, kids being heroes ~ check, dogs ~ check! Thanks so much for sharing it sounds like it's right up my alley and thanks for directing me to another great blog. Hope all is well.

    Paul R. Hewlett

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    1. Paul- It is a great book! I think this is a book that you will really enjoy. :) ~L

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  9. It sounds like a wonderful story! What a great way to bring history alive for kids. The cover's a real grabber too.

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    1. Cate- It is! This book does bring history to life and it is a great way to learn about the past. :) ~L

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  10. As opposed to the book featured on my blog, you can't get more sympathetic than a kid doing his best to save animals treated cruelly. I'm behind that idea all the way! :-)

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    1. Lexa- This is a great book with an important message (or should I say important messages). :) ~L

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  11. This book sounds so special...I know I would cry my yes out while I read it!

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    1. Patty- It is a special book and I look forward to reading the next one. :) ~L

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  12. What a coincidence, I've just finished reading an MG novel about children surviving WWII, too. Haven't read this series but I'm definitely interested because I haven't read any children's war fiction that's from the Russian side. Alex has great recommendations!

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    1. Claudine- Alex does have great recommendations! This was a wonderful book and I look forward to the next one. :) I hope the MG book you read about WWII was good! ~L

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  13. This sounds like a good story kids can get into while inadvertently learning some history :P
    That author is sly (;
    I think I've read only one WWII book. It's a really tough subject for me to get into. I'm not very good at reading the mistakes people made in the past especially those that caused human suffering...

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    1. Adriana- It is! A great way to get involved in a story and learn at the same time. :) When I read books about WWII I always want to cry, so I can see why you have a tough time with them. ~ L

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  14. Wow, I'd like to read this book myself.

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    1. Donna- It is a great book! :) I hope you get to read it soon. ~L

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