Noted children’s writer and illustrator Eugene Yelchin to speak at WhatcomReadsKids events

Noted children’s writer and illustrator Eugene Yelchin, a former Soviet “nonconformist” painter and theater set designer who immigrated to the United States toward the end of the Cold War, offers two free presentations next week.

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

He’ll discuss his works and his time in Soviet Russia during two free WhatcomReadsKids presentations that are open to the public. He’ll also be talking to students in classrooms at local schools.

• “How Reading Banned Books Saved My Life: Growing Up in Stalinist Russia” is from 6:30-8 p.m. Monday, March 9, in the Whatcom Middle School Auditorium,

810 Halleck St


• “In the Forest of Raised Hands, or How Reading Books in a Police State Saved My Life,” is from 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, in the Western Libraries Special Collections at Wilson Library,

516 High St

. on the Western Washington University campus.