. . . . Volume VIII Number 2 . . . . September 21, 2001
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko.
Toronto, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2000.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
Grades 1 and up / Ages 6 and up.
Review by Valerie Nielsen.
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch has set her latest picture book during one of the darkest periods of
Ukrainian history, that of the famine instigated by Stalin in the
1930's. Most Canadians who are
not of Ukrainian descent know little about this man-made catastrophe
which many historians
today regard as a war between the Kremlin and the Ukrainian peasants. In
this unequal struggle,
villagers were forced to turn over their entire supply of livestock,
foodstuffs and seed grain to the
Red Army and the Secret Police. The result was a horrific death toll
which most authorities place
at 5 million or more.
Marusia, the plucky little heroine of Enough, lives with her father on
a farm near the village of
Zhitya. Most years their farm produces barely enough food for the two of
them, but one year the
crop is good. Just as Marusia and her father are harvesting the wheat, a
soldier arrives to tell
them that there is a Dictator now, and that their wheat and farm belong
to the People. Marusia,
wise beyond her years, realizes that the Dictator's soldiers will soon
be back for the whole crop
and hides a sackful of grain in her hope chest. Sure enough, her fears
are realized when the
soldiers return and take all but the hidden grain. Next spring, as the
villagers face certain
starvation, Marusia gains the help of a giant stork who flies her over
the ocean to the Canadian
prairies where immigrant farmers generously give her a babushka full of
grain to take back to their
Ukrainian cousins. Alas, at the next harvest season, the villagers awake
to find their fields picked
clean. When a greedy officer encounters the magic stork, he shamelessly
asks for help. pretending
that his soldiers have nothing to eat. The stork offers his back, and
they fly across the officer's
once beautiful homeland, now covered with empty fields and full
graveyards. On the Canadian
prairie, the officer takes advantage of the farmers' generosity, loading
the stork with far more than
"enough." Although soldier and sacks fall into the ocean, the villagers
are not out of danger, for,
as Marusia points out, "The officer is only one man, and the Dictator
has men like him in plenty."
Indeed, the next visitor to Zhitya is the Dictator himself; however he
is no match for Marusia who
has devised a fiendishly clever plan to outwit him.
Enough is Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's second successful picture book
award-winning illustrator Michael Martchenko. In it, the author uses a
classic folktale formula
wherein the small and the good defeat the big and the evil. Martchenko's
spirited watercolours are
wonderfully detailed. They have a whimsical humour which gives the
story a light-hearted feel
despite its tragic setting. Particularly appealing are the richly
illustrated end-papers which
represent a Ukrainian babushka.
Young listeners will warm to the courageous protagonist and derive
immense satisfaction from
the outcome of her clever ruse to deceive the Dictator. For older
readers, a sharing of Enough
may open a chapter of history that has not been accessible to them. To
help students learn more
about the famine, the author has listed other resources, including a
book, a film and an excellent
website. Skrypuch's appealing combination of folklore and history should
guarantee a wide range
of readers at the elementary level.
Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.
on this title or this review, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
© the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use
is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction
is prohibited without permission.
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