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, Ukraine and other former soviet states. 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 too 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.

The Wheat stalk,Malysh publishers Moscow 1981, Ukrainian folk tales collection with drawings by Y.Rachov.

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.

Apr 21, 2012

The yellow house...

I Stepped out of my car;
The air wasn't mellow;
The sun was warm ;
The wind was calm.
With Mangalore tiles
and painted yellow-
A farmer’s house
by the coconut palm.
The door was locked;
The well was dry;
No sign of life-
Can you guess why?
Once green and fertile-
His paddy land;
Now My site –
A layout planned!

Apr 6, 2012

I Crave...

image courtesy : google

I crave to be a rain bow
    And caress the passing cloud
Bathe in the sun - gently glow
    Painted in colors loud

I crave to be a drop of dew
    And caress the grassy lawn
Pure and clear- fresh and new
    Reborn every morn at dawn

I crave to be a stringless kite
    And caress the easy wind
Soar far and fly – day and night
    Leaving all my load behind

I crave to be a paper boat
    And caress the flowing stream
Sail along –gloat afloat
    And reach the island I dream

I crave to be a gentle breeze
    And caress the bamboo thicket
Thro’ beetle holes- pass with ease
    Flute music is nirvana’s ticket

I crave to be a bumble bee
    And caress every garden flower
Sip the nectar – heart in glee
    Honey filled life forever

I crave to be a bubble of soap
    And caress the rays of light
Glide along- winds of hope
    Till the earth is out of sight

I crave to be an ocean wave
    And caress the golden beach
Tide above the rocks and lave
    A carefree life I beseech

Apr 3, 2012


image courtesy : google


The number was 13 and she knocked twice
‘Come in’ she heard – a very gruff voice
She pushed the door and her heartbeat rose
As cigarette smoke choked her ring pierced nose
The curtains were down, the light was dim
The silhouette was still and that was him
‘Sit down’ he growled and pointed the bed
Quietly she sat and nodded her head
In every filthy finger- a stone studded ring
And heavy gold chains he wore like a king.

He dropped some ice in his glass of rum
And grinned at her- the bag of scum
Her looks had changed- wouldn't recognize her
He was the very reason why she was there
A childhood snatched and a path of woe
Darkness thrust -Thirteen years ago.
Her parents and her village –stuck in poverty
Jobs he had promised and a life in the city
She journeyed with the wolf and 12 other sheep
Only to be slaughtered and the meat sold cheap

Her whole weary life flashed ‘fore her eyes
Her ears filled with the entrapped sheep’s cries
Her anger she had saved all these years
For the payback she’s come for all her tears
For every little sheep that he ate and sold
For every 13 year old with a tale untold
The Wolf is now drunk – a willing prey
The sheep had only waited for this very day
When it was over, the wolf lay dead
12 shots in the groin and one in the head

[... a scene in an Indian movie]