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The The Impossible Journey [Hardcover]

Gloria Whelan
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 2 2003

One Russian night in 1934, Marya and Georgi's parents disappear. Despite high risks, Katya and Misha had spoken against the government. The children, alone and desperate, fear the worst. Will they ever see their parents again?

But all it takes is one crumpled letter to give Marya and Georgi hope and send them on a dangerous mission to reunite their family. They must steal away in the dark of night, escape the city, and find passage to the great Siberian wilderness. And even then, if they succeed in getting away, their journey will have only just begun.

In this companion novel to her breathtaking Russian epic Angel on the Square, National Book Award winning author Gloria Whelan takes readers on a remarkable journey that is both perilous and transforming.


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From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-A story of a remarkable 13-year-old girl in an extraordinary situation. In Leningrad, in 1934, Marya sets out to find her parents, former aristocrats and therefore considered enemies of the state, who have been sent to Siberia as political prisoners. The spirited and resourceful girl learns that her mother is in Dudinka, a thousand miles from the closest railway station. Marya obtains a few rubles selling her paintings (like Kobe in Homeless Bird [HarperCollins, 2000], Marya's creativity helps sustain her) and buys tickets for herself and her younger brother. At the railway station, the children begin their trek, finding their way by following a river. Some strangers help them; others conspire to report them to the authorities for placement in an orphanage. A tribe of reindeer-herding Samoyeds helps the children to their final stop, where they are reunited with their mother. Papa, who had been sent to a coal-mining camp in Siberia, eventually joins them, but is so ill that he dies at the first signs of spring. Life under Stalin as seen through the eyes of Marya is accessible, well researched, and culturally insightful. Lyrical prose conveys both a strong sense of place and the tremendous love that compels the protagonist to find her parents. Once again, Whelan successfully explores territory less traveled in books for young people.
Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. In a companion to Angel on the Square (2001), Whelan turns her attentions to Stalinist Russia, circa 1934. Following the murder of a local Communist party official, 13-year-old Marya's parents (the grown-up Katya and Mishka from the earlier novel) are arrested and sent into exile. Marya and her younger brother Georgi try to manage on their own at first, but eventually they set off on a long trek from Leningrad to Siberia, where they hope to locate their mother. Although the odds are great, with help from a kindly doctor, a fisherman's wife, and a band of nomadic Samoyeds, they succeed. Whelan centers her narrative on the children's journey, adding depth with a wealth of rich background details--about political prisons, the prevailing attitudes toward Communist dissidents, the changing lifestyles of the indigenous peoples of Siberia, and the absence of personal and religious freedoms, and much more. Give this to children who liked the previous book and to fiction fans who are interested in this historical period. A glossary of Russian terms is appended. Kay Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Comrade Sergei Kirov was killed on the first day of December. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Impossible Journey July 5 2006
Format:Library Binding
The year is 1934, and thirteen-year-old Marya, her seven-year-old little brother Georgi, and her parents are living a life full of unending fear, tension, edginess, worry, and turmoil. Marya's parents, Katya and Misha, are both against the strict rules and restrictions that Comrade Josef Stalin and his fellow cruel and bloodthirsty revolutionaries have imposed upon all of Russia, ever since the Imperial family was assassinated that fateful night in 1917 in the House of Special Purpose. And now, Comrade Sergei Kirov has just been murdered, and things have only started becoming worse.

One night, in the cramped apartment their family lives in, Marya stumbles upon the secret gold locket that her mother has always held so dear and precious to her. Marya looks inside the locket and sees miniscule pictures of each of the members of the Imperial family: Tsar Nikolai II, Empress Alexandra, Tsarevitch Alexei, Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Tatiana, Grand Duchess Marie, and Grand Duchess Anastasia. Marya clutches the small locket tight to her, and keeps it safely in her coat pocket the next day at school, where a government-appointed comrade teaches the students the excellence and almighty power of their new Communist government.

But when one cruel girl taunts Marya for her family's rumored counterrevolutionary activity, Marya thrusts out the locket, showing her mother's importance, and before Marya can take it away, the girl grabs the locket and takes it to their teacher. Brokenhearted, Marya discovers that she may have caused the final straw for her parents' arrest for being counterrevolutionary, and instead being royalists still.
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Format:Hardcover
This was a great book--full of adventure and very exciting. The children of Katya and her cousin from the last book-Angel on the Square-witness their parents being taken away by the new police instated by the Communist government of Russia. Marya and Georgi, the children, are taken in by their greedy and rude neighbors, who take everything from Marya and Georgi's family's aprtment, and plan to send the two kids to an orphanage. However, they escape by buying train tickets with a Faberge locket their mother recieved when she lived with Anastasia in Tsarkoe Selo before the revolution and begin a journey to Siberia, by boat, through the wilderness, and by traveling and living among natives in northern Russia in order to find their mother by an address they found in a letter from their mother. The ending of the story is heart-warming, with the discovery of their mother and the return of their father in a house in Siberia owned by an old woman who takes them in. However, the reunion is disrupted by tragedy with the death of their father. This is a sad book--but it shows that you should never give up what you pursue, and that if you work hard enough--you will achieve it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book Review for The Impossible Journey May 24 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
If you liked the book Angel on the Square, by Gloria Whelan, you'll love the squeal The Impossible Journey. The main character from Angel on the Square is Katya. The Impossible Journey is about Katya's children. The story takes place in Russia under the rule of Stalin. Katya and her husband are arrested by fake charges and sent to Siberia. The children, Marya and Georgio, go to stay with their nasty neighbors who only take the children in so they can have the family's possessions. The neighbors plan to send the children to an orphanage, so the children run away and travel an impossible journey to find their parents. Along their journey they meet everything from evil men who kidnap them to reindeer hunters who help them, their adventure getting harder with each page. The Impossible Journey was a suspenseful, good, book. I recommend this book to everyone who loves adventure, historical fiction, and a good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Life in Communist Russia Aug. 4 2003
Format:Hardcover
Whelan revisits the Russian Revolution in this tale of two children who undertake a journey across Russia to Siberia to be reunited with their parents who are arrested following a 1934 rebellion. Resourceful artistic Marya and her demanding young brother Georgi fend for themselves against corrupt adults including neighbors and acquaintances, but also find friends in unlikely places, including a tribe of indigenous peoples who herd reindeer. The underlying message of hope and freedom make the large roles of coincidence and serendipity forgivable. Simple language and careful telling make this appropriate for strong readers in lower grade levels.
The idea that a Russian doctor would be fired for reading an American medical journal is as frightening as the thought of children reporting their parents as disloyal comrades. This historical novel serves as an excellent discussion point for the advantages US citizens take for granted, and may be a reminder in these patriotic and suspicious times of ours that it is easy for governments to use fear to mold behavior. Pair with Whelan's companion novel Angel on the Square for a more complete picture of life in communist Russia.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best book!!! July 7 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The Imposible Journey is my Absolute favorite book. It is the story of a girl named Marya who lives in Russia during 1934. Her parents have been taken by Russia's communist government. Marya sells paintings she made to get money for the trip. Then she and her brother Georgi set off for the town in Siberia in which they know their mother is. On their "impossible journey" they encounter many things that could either slow them down or help them along the way.
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