THE RAVEN’S CHILDREN by Yulia Yakovleva


raven's children

Leningrad, 1938.

When Shura and Tanya’s parents and little brother suddenly disappear in the middle of the night, it’s rumoured that they have been taken by the mysterious Black Raven – and that their parents were spies.

Tanya and Shura are determined to find their family – and so Shura decides to hand himself in to the Raven. He is taken to the Grey House, where everyone is given a new name and a set of grey clothes, and everyone seems to forget their families and who they really are.

Now Shura must do everything he can to cling on to his memories, and to escape…

About the book

The Raven’s Children by Yulia Yakovleva was one of four honour titles in the 2017 round of Book Trust’s In Other Words project to promote children’s literature in translation. It was a great privilege for me to translate it from Russian for Puffin and it’s a delight to see it out now with Lauren O’Hara’s marvellous cover illustration.

This gripping, fantastical novel sensitively presents the fear and suspicion of Stalin’s terror for young readers, but it will also appeal to older readers especially anyone who wants to know more about Russian/Soviet history. It is aimed at readers aged 9+ and has been described as ‘powerful historical fiction for fans of The Silver Sword and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.’

Read more about this magical, creepy story on the Puffin Books website and in the reviews below.


* Children’s book of the week * July 2018 – Nicolette Jones, The Sunday Times

‘Gripping and at times quite surreal, the blend of historical fiction and magical realism set a striking atmosphere to provide a glimpse of Stalin’s campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union. Inspired by true events from the author’s family past, Yakovleva notes that those who lived through – and survived – this period of history avoid talking about it.’ BookTrust

‘What starts out as an old-fashioned adventure quest (just who is the Raven?) suddenly takes a magical turn, but things are more sinister than they first appear and it soon becomes clear that, despite the traditional trappings, this is not a tale for young children.

I love the play of ideas in this story and it has a claustrophobic, otherworldly feel that reminds me of Coraline by Neil Gaiman.’ Charlotte Rose Norman for Waterstones

‘The Raven’s Children is a book about political repression, the destruction of people who hold memories of the past, the destruction of those who remember the right to free expression, the meanings of conscience, compassion, and charity. It’s about a generation without a country to stand behind it, a generation deprived of its memory of the past.’ Ksenia Barysheva (13), in a round up of Russian teenagers’ responses to the book, PapMamBook


* Interview with Yulia Yakovleva about The Leningrad Tales series (The Raven’s Children is the first in this five-part series) at Papmambook

* Interview with translator Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp at the Federation for Children’s Book Groups blog about translating The Raven’s Children and Apple Cake and Baklava – two novels for children (9+) that touch on traumatic events in history from a child’s perspective.