Book Club

Cold War Reading Program

Learn about the Cold War, spies and life in the past through the Diefenbunker’s Cold War Reading Program. Read three of the books below, answer their questions and return them in person or by email to a.bruce@diefenbunker.ca for a free youth museum admission! 

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

There are a lot of things happening “off stage”. How does the family fit into things like civil rights and the cold war. 

How does Franny feel about the war? How does Franny feel about the arguments with her friends? Are her feelings about the two conflicts similar? 

Franny’s uncle is sick. Why do you think this is? Why do you think he was so afraid of the Cold War? Look up “post traumatic stress disorder”

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis

Many activities were compulsory under Soviet leadership. Are there activities that are compulsory for you to do at home or at school? Are they the same?

Explain which activities you think should be controlled by our government. Is there anything currently controlled by the government you think should not be? 

In the book, a number of objects were illustrated in red and were associated with life under soviet rule. What colors and objects do you associate with your day to day life here? 

The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore

How does Hazel’s understanding of Mr. Jones change over the course of the book? Does this reveal a change in her own character? 

Do any of the characters encounter or spread rumors that end up hurting someone? What false assumptions are made and why? 

Does the role of prejudice and paranoia play a part in any of the characters decisions? If so, how? Does it benefit anyone else?

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen

Courage is an important theme in this book. Fritz describes courage as not “knowing you can do something. It’s only being willing to try”, while Gerta is afraid unless she knows a certain outcome. Do you agree with Frtiz’s definition of courage or another one? What is your definition of courage?

It’s very difficult to trust people in East Germany, and many people break Gerta’s trust. How do they do it and is it a forgivable action? Does anyone benefit from this mistrust?

Do you think the risks that Gerta and her family take are worth it? Is it right for her father to ask Gerta, Fritz and her mother to take such risks? Does her father also take risks? 

Girl in Reverse by Barbara Stuber

What year does the book take place? What is the US involved in at this time and what bearing does it have on the book?

Which person at school understands Lily the best? Why do you think they understand?

Name some examples of times Lily was brave or forced herself to be brave

All that is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon

How is the Chernobyl disaster treated by everyday people and by the state? Are there differences? Why do you think the differences are important? 

Did you prefer one character over another? Why? 

How did different generations think about the Soviet Union? What might have affected this? 

Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi

Why are people in the book afraid of Communists? Does anyone in the book benefit from this fear? 

What do you think of how the FBI agent treats Pete? 

What do you think you would do if you were in Pete’s situation?

The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman

What does the title of the book mean? Do you think it accurately describes what other people think of Francine and how she thinks of herself? 

What is freedom of speech? Who do you think portrays it best in the book?

How does Francine think about Sister Basil at the beginning and end of the book? What changes? 

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Yelchin

Sasha began the story loving Stalin and wanting to be a Communist. What events occurred during the course of the story to make him change his mind?

What makes Sasha, Vovka and Four-Eyes outcasts? What makes them similar, and what is important about their differences? Do these differences show us anything about how different groups are treated in society? 

Can you find examples of propaganda in this book? What do you think makes them effective or ineffective, and do you see anything similar in our own country? 

Sekret by Lindsay Smith

How does the government treat people? Is there a goal in this treatment? 

Is Yulia’s life better before or after she joins the school? How does she manage her new life?

What choices did Yulia’s parents make? Why and do you think they were right or wrong?