Ethnic Enterprises

    Book Reviews:
  1. B1 Kharkiv (2)
  2. B3 I Can't Find the Words to Tell You
  3. B4 Dream Star Stories

    More Reviews & Samples

B1.   Kharkiv - Review #1

Canadian Book Review Annual 1996
3084 Kharkiv. Reviewer: Myroslav Shkandrij

Kharkiv is the English translation of a story that was first published in Ukrainian in 1947. The story describes German-occupied Kharkiv in the winter of 1941-42 from the point of view of a young woman. Counterbalancing the protagonist¹s determination to survive (starvation claimed some 14,000 lives) are pictures of the profiteering by soldiers. The translation is excellent, capturing the nimble reporting style of the original. Brief notes by the translator provide useful background information.

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B1.   Kharkiv - Review #2

Ukrainian News Nov 20-Dec 3, 1996
Kharkiv Reviewer: Marco Levytsky

In 1939, before the outbreak of World War II, Kharkiv had a population of 833,000. It had witnessed years of Stalinist terror during which people were arrested, deported or executed for holdings beliefs contrary to those of the Stalinist establishment. Among those to perish were the intellectual and artistic élite, people known personally by Olena Zvychaina. These years of terror during the interwar period became the subject of most of Olena Zvychaina¹s work in the West. The one exception is "The Golden Stream Out of Hungry Kharkiv," which takes place during the war.

This story, it seems, happened either to somebody very close to Zvychaina, or perhaps to Zvychaina herself. Nevertheless, the traumas and tragedies of the Stalinist years, compounded by the atrocities of World War II, had a searing effect on Zvychaina. She became a recluse.

Kharkiv was occupied by the Germans on Oct 25, 1941, and they held the city for 22 months. They city they conquered was in ruins. The retreating Red Army had destroyed all the power stations, water supply systems, railways and other transportation and communication facilities. 400,000 people were evacuated from Kharkiv to Southern Asia for the duration of the war. The thousands who were held in NKVD prisons for political, social, religious and other beliefs were executed.

During the first three months of 1942, the period during which the bulk of the story takes place, it is estimated that 14,000 people died of starvation. The Nazis also started their own terror campaign, executing real and supposed Ukrainian nationalists, along with supporters of the previous régime and Jews. By the time the Soviet army retook Kharkiv, a further 100,000 people had been exterminated by the Nazis and their supporters. The Germans also transported 60,000 people to work in the forced labor camps in Germany.

Zvychaina¹s "Kharkiv," which has been translated into English by J Zurowsky, and published by Ethnic Enterprises Publishing Division of Summerland, BC, tells the story of Katrusia, a young Kharkivite, whose husband disappeared after being impressed into a forced labor brigade and who must now struggle to feed both herself and her unborn child. In stark and graphic terms the book describes the terrible effects hunger has on its victims and the degradation and loss of human dignity that accompanies it. It is a tale which graphically illustrates this period of Ukrainian history and, in fact, many periods for the suffering nation which experienced famines throughout.

Zvychaina never did complete the book and the publishers decided to leave the translation without an ending as well in order to preserve the works¹s integrity. Although this leaves the reader guessing as to how the story may end, it nevertheless provides an authentic quality to the work, much as in the case of the "Diary of Ann Frank."

"Kharkiv" is a change of pace for Ethnic Enterprises, best noted for author Danny Evanishen¹s translations of Ukrainian folk tales like "Zhabka" and the "Raspberry Hut." But it is nevertheless a compelling read.

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5.   I Can't Find the Words to Tell You - Review

BC Book Publishers Association review for schools, 1996
Subject Core French, Language Arts, Social Studies Audience Grades K-5

The story, told by a young child, briefly recounts moving from a little house in Ukraine to Canada, where father not only builds a new house, but one that looks exactly like the Ukrainian one. The addition of a puppy to the household makes life in the new country complete. This picture book is a trilingual publication, containing Ukrainian, English, and French text. The simple narration faces colour cloth collages.

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6.   Dream Star Stories - Review

Penticton Herald, August 27, 1999 Reviewer: Penny Smith

Dollies and Dragons and Wizards. Such is the stuff of children's dreams. But where do they come from?

The answer, of course, is the Dream Star.

Dream Star Stories, a children's book by Traci-Jo Critchlow, is a collection of the things a child wants to know about Dream Stars ‹ how they got into the sky, what happens when the dreams are used up, dream beads, and where they come from.

And no collection would be complete without the tales of extra special people who ask and receive special miracles. Chester who dreams of being the first frog astronaut, or Flora, a dolly who wants to dream like her real children friends, and Laura who loves yellow but dreams of a rainbow.

Did you know Dream Stars love to tickle the tails of sleeping dogs, cats, mice and such, to give animals their special dreams as well?

Traci-Jo tells her dream tales in rhyming and free verse and lovely short stories. From the Dream Star Man to wonderful Whizzing Wizards, the tales are delightful and full of imagination and fun.

What adds much to the book are the charming full colour illustrations by Traci-Jo's father. Each story comes with its own special picture, full of whimsy and fun. Chester the frog hangs from the moon, while Flora rides a colourful unicorn.

On the final page a dashing Wizard sprinkles Dream Stars as he flies by in his unique plane.

I found the pages bright and interesting, as did my 18-month-old granddaughter. Perhaps too young to understand the stories, she nonetheless enjoyed the beautiful pages. And, of all the tales, I found the story about that most famous of all nursery rhyme cows absolutely entrancing.

This charming piece of love, dedicated to Traci-Jo's little boy Cameron, is yet more evidence of Okanagan talent.

I have just one question. When does the sequel come out?

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