Review: Brave Volodymyr: The Story of Volodymyr Zelensky and the Fight for Ukraine

Brave Volodymyr: The Story of Volodymyr Zelensky and the Fight for Ukraine

by Linda Elovitz Marshall, illustrated by Grasya Oliyko 

Quill Tree Books, 2023

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Merle Eisman Carrus
This picture book biography tells the story of Volodymyr Zelensky, starting with his childhood and leading all the way to his election as the president of Ukraine. Using simple language and concepts, author Linda Marshall explains how the young Zelensky grew up seeing evil and corruption in his country. From a young age, his goal was to make the country and the world a better place for everyone. His career as an entertainer led him to run in the presidential election, because he realized that humor alone cannot keep a country free and independent. 
Zelensky is Jewish, and yet he grew up to be president of a country that in the past has been very antisemitic. Ukranian discrimination against in the Jewish people is mentioned in the book. Volodymyr's grandfather fought in the Russian army against the Nazis and members of the Zelensky family lost their lives in World War II. This information is an important part of the story. Readers will understand how the Jewish experience fits into this book.

The book covers the basic facts and is written to be understood easily by a young reader. The story is told clearly, from the beginning of Zelenksy's life to the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine. It gives a simplified explanation of what led up to the war and of why there is a war there now. It explains why and how Zelensky became the president and how he hopes to bring freedom to Ukraine.

The illustrations are colorful, emphasizing the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag, as well as the strong reds and yellows of the Soviet flag. The bold colors and drawings help to embellish the story line. Grasya Oliyko is a children's book illustrator from Kyiv, Ukraine.

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Reviewer Merle Eisman Carrus resides in New Hampshire and writes book reviews for the NH Jewish Reporter newspaper. She is a graduate of Emerson College and received her Masters of Jewish Studies from Hebrew College. Merle is the National President of the Brandeis National Committee and co-chair of Women's League Reads. She leads books discussion groups and author interviews. She blogs her book reviews at