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BOOKS: Inspirational value of banned books is focus of Whatcom Reads! author talk

Noted children’s writer and illustrator Eugene Yelchin, a Soviet painter who immigrated to the United States toward the end of the Cold War, offers two free “Whatcom Reads! Kids and Teens” presentations that are open to the public. He will also be talking to students at local schools.

Yelchin is author of the 2012 Newbery Honor book “Breaking Stalin’s Nose,” a moving story for middle readers about a boy growing up during the Stalinist era, torn between loyalty to his country and the grim reality of life in a totalitarian society. He followed that with “Arcady’s Goal” in 2014, the tale of a boy whose parents are enemies of the state but whose soccer skills could mean personal redemption.

Yelchin will talk about “How Reading Banned Books Saved My Life: Growing Up in Stalinist Russia” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 9, in Whatcom Middle School auditorium, 810 Halleck St. He also will speak about “In the Forest of Raised Hands, or How Reading Books in a Police State Saved My Life” from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, in Western Libraries Special Collections at Wilson Library, 516 High St., on Western Washington University’s campus.

Details: 360-305-3600, whatcomreads.org/wr_kids-teens.

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