"Almost a literary version" of the Cosby family
Ten Apples, or the Numbers Game

Russian Books for Kids

Cover-2  Earlier this week when I wrote about Russian literature, a reader asked me about books for children. I turned to the Child_Lit email discussion list and to Twitter for help, and look! All these great picture books concerning Russia, Russian folk tales, and Russian-American experiences. A collaborative post like this is my favorite kind. Many thanks to everyone who suggested books. (I can always add to the list, too, if readers know of others.)

I'm tickled that the translator of some books by Samuel Marshak, described to me as the "Russian Dr. Seuss," is Richard Pevear, who, along with Larissa Volokhonsky, translated the edition of War and Peace that I'm now reading. From picture-book dog adventures to Tolstoy's very adult epic novel, the work of a translator must be fascinating.

Asch, Frank. Here Comes the Cat. Illustrated by Vladimir Vagin. (Scholastic, 1989)

Atwell, Debby. The Thanksgiving Door. (Houghton Miflin, 2003)

Bilibin, Ivan. See this page at the Sur La Lune fairy tale site for more information about books by Bilibin, a stage designer and  illustrator. Russian Fairy Tales, compiled by Gillian Avery, features his work (Knopf, 1995). 

Chukovsky, Kornei. Various out-of-print books.

Demi, and Pushkin, Aleksandr. The Magic Gold Fish: A Russian Folktale. (Holt, 1995)

Gambrel, Jamey. Telephone. Adaptation of a children's story by Kornei Chukovsky; iIlustrated by Vladimir Radunsky.  (North-South Books, 1996)

Hoffman, Mary. Clever Katya: A Fairy Tale from Old Russia. Illustrated by Marie Cameron. (Barefoot Books, 1998.)

Kendall, Russ. Russian Girl: Life in an Old Russian Town. (Scholastic, 1994)

Khalsa, Dayal Kaur. Tales of a Gambling Grandma. (Crown, 1986)

Kimmel, Eric A. The Chanukkah Guest. Illustrated by Giora Carmi. (Holiday House, 1990)

Lewis, J. Patrick. The Frog Princess: A Russian Folktale. Illustrated by Gennady Spirin. (Dial, 1994)

Lottridge, Celia Barker. Music for the Tsar of the Sea: A Russian Wonder Tale. Illustrated by Harvey Chan. (Groundwood, 1998)

Maguire, Gregory. The Dream Stealer. (Harper & Row, 1983)

Marshak, Samuel. The Absentminded Fellow. Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal; translated by Richard Pevear. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999)

Marshak, Samuel. The Pup Grew Up! Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky; translated by Richard Pevear. (Henry Holt, 1989)

Marshak, Samuel. Hail to Mail. Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky; translated by Richard Pevear. (Henry Holt, 1990) 

Mayer, Marianna. Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave. Illustrated by Kinuko Craft. (Morrow Junior Books, 1994)

Ogburn, Jacqueline K. The Magic Nesting Doll. Illustrated by Laurel Long. (Dial, 2000)

Polacco, Patricia. Babushka's Doll. (Simon and Schuster, 1999)

Polacco, Patricia. Rechenka's Eggs. (Philomel, 1988) 

Polacco, Patricia. Thunder Cake. (Philomel, 1990) 

Ransome, Arthur. Old Peter's Russian Tales. ([London] Nelson, 1971, 1916) See also the Sur La Lune site.

Russian Wonder Tales page, at the Sur La Lune site.

Sanderson, Ruth. The Golden Mare, the Firebird, and The Magic Ring. (Little Brown, 2001)

Sierra, Judy. Silly & Sillier: Read-Aloud Tales from Around the World. Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev. (Knopf, 2002). The "Bear-Squash-You-Flat" story is from Russia.

Woodruff, Elvira. The Memory Coat. Illustrated by Michael Dooling. (Scholastic, 1999)

Yolen, Jane. The Firebird. Illustrated by Vladimir Vagin. (HarperCollins, 2002)

Yolen, Jane. The Flying Witch.  Illustrated by Vladimir Vagin. (HarperCollins, 2003)

Zeleznova, Irina. Various works.

Look for other, older picture book retellings of  "The Giant Turnip," a.k.a., "The Enormous Turnip" ("a very funny, silly story that is very Russian," says rare-book librarian Jenny Schwartzberg), "The Month-Brothers," "Vasilissa the Beautiful," and "The Firebird." 

One respondent said that she had ordered materials for her library from Russia Online, which sells Russian-language books, among other items.

Image of The Memory Coat cover borrowed from Powell's Books.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My favorite "Russian" book (which I didn't send you because wanted to provide books that are in print) is Masha by Mara Kay, a wonderful historical novel set in the early 19th century about a girl whose father dies fighting Napoleon. As a result, she is eligible to attend Smolni, a select boarding school founded by Catherine the Great, but that means never seeing her home again...

Thank you *so much* for this wonderful list! I really appreciate you pulling all this together. I had already wondered about getting Jane Yolen's Firebird, but it is so expensive (nearly £50!), so I went with Demi's Firebird - it too is beautifully illustrated and worth adding to your list. I'm really looking forward to working my way through this selection of books - thanks again! :-)

Thanks for this list, Susan! Wonderful.

You're so welcome, Zoe and Jules. Y'all know I can't resist making a list! I've read the Patricia Polacco titles, Kimmel's Chanukkah Guest, and the Silly & Sillier book, but not the others. Lots of good reading here.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)