CM online posted two reviews of Kobzar's Children yesterday. One, by teacher-librarian Gail Hamilton, was glowing -- 4 out of 4 stars. And the other, by an academic, trashed it -- 2 out of 4 stars.
I'm beginning to see a pattern here. Reviews by academics -- especially Ukrainian academics -- are finding fault because it's not what they expected, yet teacher-librarians and the general public are loving it because there hasn't been a book out like this before.
My goal in putting together this anthology was to get little-known incidents of Ukrainian and Canadian-Ukrainian history into story form and into the hands of the general public. History and story are the operative words here. I didn't want this to be an academic collection. I wanted it to be approachable by someone who had little or no prior knowledge about Ukrainian immigrants and their recent history. I wanted readers to be able to step into the shoes of these people.
The response I've had at readings and signings has been overwhelmingly positive. Ditto regarding the emails I've been getting. Most people tell me that their grandfather or their neighbour or friend is Ukrainian, and they're thrilled that there's a mainstream book of stories like this available. Here's an excerpt from a recent email I got:
"I have just now.. [read Kobzar's Children].. and have been so very moved and educated. I had absolutely no idea Ukrainian people had been treated so badly. I know that ..[my new daughter-in-law] and her siblings will also find it just so interesting and will help them understand the land and stories of their parents and ancestors.
I just wanted to let you know how much these books are enjoyed and appreciated. Thank you so very much for all your research, efforts, and hard work."
"Kobzar's Children knocked me out. Thank you so much for being part of bringing all this to light."
"Bravo !! You are so right. We Ukrainians have been stereotyped in the worst & negative way."
"I just finished reading Kobzar's Children, Well done, Humour, sadness and Ukranian history makes for a excellent read."