Apr 25, 2012

The Golden days of Books for Children...

Every time I venture to buy a picture story book for my daughter I only end up disappointed big time. Children’s books now-a-days are so drab and plain boring. Our generation (from the 70s) was immensely lucky that we grew up in the era were the books came from the erstwhile Soviet Union. Almost every other children’s book was the English translation of the folklore, fairy tales and ditties of Russia. I still remember them for their fantastic illustrations and distinctive styles. Master illustrators like Yuri Vasnetsov and Boris Kalaushin cast a spell on me that last till this day. They simply colored my childhood with endless fantasy and fun. I owe a lot to these gifted illustrators for shaping my artistic instincts as a kid.
But unfortunately the inflow of Russian books ceased abruptly after the 80s. Now we see only lackluster books that do not appeal to the kids and on top of it expensive. The illustrations mostly lack in substance, scale and context. Iam shocked to see today kids books with pages and pages of texts with no or just a few appalling illustrations.
I decided to dig through the web in search of the Russian books of the good old days. To my disappointment, I realized that many Russian publication houses had closed shop with the end of the Soviet era. I could collect a few illustrations here and there that took me on a nostalgic trip.

Few of my favorites...


Few unforgettable characters:The wily fox, the bad wolf, the Nanny goat, the clever hedgehog, the proud pussy




Tales of the Amber sea- a collection of Russian fairy tales - a very distinctive illustration style !

Kids & Cubs by O.Perovskaya- adventurous tale of kids who pet different animals

L.Yakhnin's Cardboard ClockSquare

E.Rachev's illustration's for 'Cockerel'

Yuri Vasnetsov's illustrations for Dancing Perch
Few books that took me back in time...

E.Serova's Hedgehog gloves with the classic illustrations of Boris Kalaushin

Picture Stories by Nikolai Ernestovich Radlov - My most favorite of the lot! Every page told a funny story...What can I do to get this book?!

The 1937 original cover page by Radlov on top..The new cover page (as published recently by New Century Book house) at the bottom - shocking!  See for yourself the degeneration of illustrations in today's kids books!


In my search, I discovered a fellow enthusiast Swetlana, who has featured many vintage books in her site - Library things. I was excited like a kid to see some of them that took me down the memory lane. How I wish to go back to the 70s and take my daughter too with me.

Laura's Animalarium is a treasure house for Illustration and art lovers. 

Thanks to efforts of Mr.Rajaram Vasudevan. An exclusive blog for Russian book lovers is created .Pls visit http://booksofsovietunion.blogspot.in/...and share.

39 comments:

  1. Yes... The books these days aren't very appealing. They don't make the kids yearn for more. I remember dad telling me about the books you've mentioned.

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  2. Those old Russian books were beautifully bound books and cheap, if I remember correctly. We had lots of those books at home for my sons. There used to be small small exhibitions of these books in bus stops too!

    Let me show this to my son. He too will like it and go nostalgic, thank you!

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    1. Yes..They were very cheap for those days compared to the expensive crap today!As a kid I looked forward to the Chitrai Fair in Madurai to buy these books!Iam sure your son too will go nostalgic...

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  3. These books are something close to those we used to read in our school library! It’s true even the comics are not appealing to read these days and not many kids are interested on books rather related to their subjects, the gadgets replaces their books a lot.

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  4. I rememeber those books, even we used to get russian magazines too, but for children we had other god ones too like chandamama,panchantra etc

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  5. The memories that are so important, good series.

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  6. Wonderful post! I don't know these books but I love the illustrations!

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  7. Great post Ashok, and I completely agree with you about children's books today.
    You found some wonderful illustrations!

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  8. You come up with the most amazing stuff!

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  9. Those children books and covers are precious. I remember enjoying the good old books when I was young. Nowadays, its all the internet, and your right, the illustrations are not as good ~

    Happy day ~

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  10. It is sad that your daughter won't be able to read those books. I am a 90's child so I still got the chance to read worth reading books about adventure and friendship and not about how to get married in such a young age. This is like a time machine, drawing us back to our childhood.

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  11. My friend,
    I don't have any children but admire those that do. Great job with this.

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  12. kids time

    ei i forget tell you, i really liked this term, 'ashokism' :)

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  13. I agree wit you, olden books are gold.

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  14. now that's one amazing collection there

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  15. Nostalgic!!
    Boo and I loved those books. Most of them were given to us as prizes from our school!! I still treasure. I hope Ashu and Antu gets to enjoy them!!

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  16. classic collection
    like the post

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  17. I'm a 90s child, but very familiar with these books thanks to my elder siblings! Great post, and massive, massive amounts of nostalgia. You Sir, have just made my day.

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  18. Wow ! What a Treasure Trove for kids. I remember the Russian books too. Bought quite a few for my kids. Amazingly illustrated story books.

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  19. Love all these treasures you've shared with us.

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  20. what a wonderful selection of old illustrations!

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  21. Nice reading about these old treasures.

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  22. Haah, it must have taken you to your golden days! Yes, the books for kids these days are nothing when compared to these! That may be the reason for this younger generation to move away from reading habits. I remember hearing few books you've mentioned here. :)

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  23. Absolutely fantastic!

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  24. Pleased to meet a fellow Russian book lover!
    Radlov's Picture Stories looks delightful...
    I can't believe how bad the new cover looks :(

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    1. Thanks Laura...Iam now a fan of Animalarium!

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  25. Your post took me back down memory lane ..... I remember as a kid waiting eagerly for the Sunday morning. Especially during winter breaks, to visit the District Library (Shillong). Two books to borrow for the week and as many as you can to read sitting in the children's section. How wonderful those books were, the pictures alone could carry you to a wonderland........

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  26. This is an amazing post which took me back to those magical days of cultural exchange with India and USSR where we were flooded with beautifully drawn folk tales from various part of USSR. I might still have some of those books in 'Malayalam' at my mother's.'Raduga', 'Progress', 'Mir' most of those publishers had to close down. I miss those days and books. I want to buy the English versions of these books for my 4 year old child. Any idea where I can get them? are they still in print by some one in their original form? At least epubs?

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  27. Anonymous5:09 PM

    Usually I do not learn post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up
    very pressured me to check out and do so! Your
    writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you,
    quite nice article.
    Also visit my web page : best kids books

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  28. Regarding Russian Books, I want to share something. There is a facebook page please follow the below link

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/%E0%B4%86-%E0%B4%AA%E0%B4%B4%E0%B4%AF-%E0%B4%B1%E0%B4%B7%E0%B5%8D%E0%B4%AF%E0%B5%BB-%E0%B4%AA%E0%B5%81%E0%B4%B8%E0%B5%8D%E0%B4%A4%E0%B4%95%E0%B4%99%E0%B5%8D%E0%B4%99%E0%B5%BE/393471110750681?ref=stream

    Some of them in the group has decided to scan and share russian books what we have with us.

    You may find more books Russian as well as non russian in the site
    www.arvindguptatoys.com

    Just goto the site and click on the "ENGLISH" and scroll down.

    If any one who commented above is ready to scan and share share the books they have, Most welcome

    Regards,
    rajaramvasudev@gmail.com

    www.rajaramvasudev.blogspot.com

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  29. Sir
    My search for Russian books, reached me to this page and some other pages too.

    . Hope you could visit the FB page. One interesting thing is that yesterday the daughter of Sri Moscow Gopalakrishnan and Omana( the translators) visited the page and left good comments. At least we are happy that, we could locate them.

    I have started a google group where I I have shared around 11 books.
    Please join the below group and download the books.

    Soviet_Books@googlegroups.com

    If you have any books of such kind, request you to please share that. By doing this we can preserve the treasure to future generations and also "past kids" like us

    Regards
    Rajaram

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  30. Sir
    My search for Russian books, reached me to this page and some other pages too.

    . Hope you could visit the FB page. One interesting thing is that yesterday the daughter of Sri Moscow Gopalakrishnan and Omana( the translators) visited the page and left good comments. At least we are happy that, we could locate them.

    I have started a google group where I I have shared around 11 books.
    Please join the below group and download the books.

    Soviet_Books@googlegroups.com

    If you have any books of such kind, request you to please share that. By doing this we can preserve the treasure to future generations and also "past kids" like us

    Regards
    Rajaram

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  31. Kindly attract the above 31 commentators to the FB page and to the google group.......by doing so we can have a good archive of the children's literature

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  32. http://www.booksofsovietunion.blogspot.in/

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    Replies
    1. excellent work Rajaram

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  33. Thanks Rajaram for the site... i was searching for these books for a long time.....

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  34. A brilliant blog post and a trip down memory lane yet again.

    Due to a very similar thought process, we've started collating Soviet books (both scanned and sourced through internet) and uploading at https://docs.google.com/folderview?pli=1&id=0B6QdKq6q5WvFYldoNVFoakRSS0k

    Happy reading.

    devadatta_r@yahoo.com

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