Helping our Children Become People of the Book


I was born in Ukraine in a basement apartment comprising one bedroom and a kitchen. Six people lived there. My late father, Vladimir Shyfrin, became a professor of science. My mother, Eugenia Alexandrovskaya, became an engineer. My parents couldn’t afford a new luxury apartments or a car, but our home was always full of books. The Book was the Queen. There were all kinds of books: adventures, biographies, and also children’s popular science.

I grew up, became the champion of Ukraine’s physics olympiads, graduated from university in Moscow, completed my PhD, started a successful business. But wherever I was and whatever I did, the passion for books and science never left me. It was due to my parents, who since early childhood had introduced to the wonderful world of knowledge.

We don’t know who our children will become in their lives, but we should definitely teach them to be good people. We should definitely teach them to think. We should never forget, and tell our children, that we are the People of the Book. We have to teach them to discern between good and evil.

Today I myself have children and grandchildren, and I found that it’s my duty to acquaint them with the world of books and science as my parents had acquainted me. I decided to write an interesting story for my children and grandchildren, and Travels With Sushi In the Land of the Mind was born. But after the book was finished, I said to myself: why not publish it? Even if it helped just a few children navigate their ways through life, my way of thinking was, my mission would be fulfilled.

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In my story the characters are stranded in a land they weren’t aware of, governed by unfamiliar physical laws. They embark on a mission to save it. To do so, they have to vanquish the Black Queen and her lords and recover the Book of Understanding. Their journey is perilous, and as it proceeds they make friends and learn about the world and themselves. However, they are given the option to abandon the mission anytime; safety is a touch of a button away. In their toughest moments they feel the urge to press it.

We all face crises in life. And every crisis can be both a problem and an opportunity to grow and reach heights of which you haven’t dreamed off. But if you give in, life becomes dull and colorless.

Through my book I tried to convey the message to children that, in order to live a meaningful life, they must be strong, resilient and always striving for knowledge, and, most importantly, good people.

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