children's book

‘Quiet Night, My Astronaut’: award-winning Ukrainian children’s book on war’s first days released in North America


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A highly regarded Ukrainian children’s book about the first days of the full-scale invasion,”Quiet Night, My Astronaut” by Oksana Lushchevska and Kateryna Stepanishcheva, has been released in North America by Tilbury House Publishers.



Notably, the book was recognized as one of the most significant Ukrainian releases of 2022 by Chytomo literary observers, and it also received the “Book of the Year” award in the Children’s literature category. Anderson Press will also introduce the book to the UK audience in June.


Valentyna Vzdulska, a respected literary critic, shared her insights in a review for Chytomo: “The book describes the experience of seven-year-old girl Iya and her family during the first ten days of the war, echoing the experience of millions of Ukrainians: sirens, sounds of bombings, nights in bomb shelters or corridors, and ultimately – evacuation. The world around turns into deafening chaos, and in it, the only refuge becomes not so much double walls as the created by the closest people life-saving microcosm, where the sense of security for the child, metaphorically conveyed through silence, is constructed through constant small efforts.”


She added:, “Hugging, joking, playing games, taking care of the dog Pifа, drawing funny messages for dad, singing, and eating porridge, keeping in touch with friends, admiring the stars and parrots – are no less important than strictly following life-saving rules. Because all these actions also save — not only the psyche but also the inner sense of light and the belief that evil will inevitably be defeated, and life will conquer death.”


“Quiet Night, My Astronaut: The First Days (and Nights) of the War in Ukraine” is tailored for both young readers (age 6–10 years) in the USA and Canada as well as Ukrainian children who have sought safety in these regions. Specifically adapted for international readers, the book features an introduction and an afterword that distinguishes it from the original Ukrainian version.


“Such inclusion will shed more light on the hard complexity of a child’s life at the beginning of the war and the complete destruction of the child’s normal life and routines,” said author Oksana Lushchevska.


The book is also well-suited for Ukrainian readers who are now in the USA and Canada, and has been included in “A Suitcase with Books,” reading list, a project organized by the Goethe Institute in cooperation with the experts on childhood trauma.


Lushchevska elaborates on Tilbury House Publishers’ mission with this publication: “The aim of Tilbury House Publishers is to bring more clarity and, for a lack of a better word – more voices from Ukraine – to the young readers in the USA and Canada. The publishers had a few main goals: to remind readers of the fact that the war is raging and to refer to the feelings of sympathy and support on a deeper level. They believe that such a book will develop a good understanding of our interconnectedness and our common values.”


Kikus positively reviewed the book and the illustrations in particular: “Stepanishcheva’s inventive illustrations, in a patriotic palette of blue and yellow accented with black and red, underscore the family’s closeness despite the upheaval. Portrayed huddled inside a go bag, encircled in Ia’s absent dad’s arms, or entwined, reunited, amid a cultural floral motif, the family—like Ukraine—will survive’.



In a comment to Chytomo, Kateryna Stepanishcheva noted that she avoids realism and exaggeration in her illustrations: “I made it clear from the start that there would be no depiction of war. I didn’t want to visualize the horrors that children unfortunately have already experienced – explosions, rockets, losses, ruins. Children’s imagination is so strong and vulnerable that small hints are enough to unfold tragic scenes within. Instead, I wanted to focus on the fact that despite all the darkness, there have always been, are, and will be people who support and care; that in any times, there is always room for love. It is crucial to concentrate on this because where attention goes, energy flows. The war will surely end, but light and love will always prevail.”


The book sparked a huge interest at the Frankfurt Book Fair. “The reception so far has been extremely positive and encouraging,” Lushchevska said. As a result, “Quiet Night” will also be available in Europe, firstly for Lithuanian readers.


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