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Comics & Graphic Novels Historical Fiction

Five Stalks of Grain

by (author) Adrian Lysenko

illustrated by Ivanka Theodosia Galadza

University of Calgary Press
Initial publish date
Jan 2024
Historical Fiction, Historical, Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2022
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2024
    List Price

Classroom Resources

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In 1932, as famine rages across Ukraine, the Soviet government calls for the harshest punishment for those who keep for themselves even five stalks of grain. When their mother is accused of hoarding and summarily killed, Nadia and Taras must leave their home on a desperate quest for survival.


Attempting to navigate a closed country, to stay together, and to stay alive, Nadia and Taras must face secret police, soldiers, and fellow citizens forced to abandon charity and sometimes even humanity in the face of impossible hunger. Unsure who to trust and unable to find refuge, they search for somewhere, anywhere, where they can be safe.


Historical fiction at its finest, Five Stalks of Grain is powerfully written and beautifully illustrated, drawing on Ukrainian artistic traditions to tell a story of loss, grief, and hardship with delicate strength. It is a record of a time of profound suffering and a reckoning with the human cost of a tragedy shaped by politics and policy.


This book is also available in Ukrainian as П'ять колосків — Piat koloskiv.

About the authors


  • Short-listed, Alberta Book Publishing Awards - Graphic Novel of the Year

Contributor Notes

Adrian Lysenko is a writer, editor, and journalist who has worked in Ontario, Alaska, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. He is the winner of the Taras Shevchenko Emerging Writer’s Competition and editor of the arts and culture alternative The Walleye Magazine. Adrian lives outside Thunder Bay, Ontario.


Ivanka Theodosia Galadza is a Ukrainian-Canadian illustrator. She holds a BFA in printmaking at Concordia University. Ivanka lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Editorial Reviews

Shocking, heartbreaking and teeth-gnashingly relevant. A work of profound art, it deserves an important place in classrooms and school and personal libraries.

SesayArts Magazine

Genuine horror and anguish undergird this poignant evocation of atrocity.

Publisher’s Weekly

Conveys the trauma of the Holodomor with power and humanity.

The Toronto Star