I give the complete credit for my love of reading to my mom. No she is not an avid reader herself but she recognised my love for it when I was perhaps 2-3 years old. She fondly recalls that I used to crawl and sit on top of open newspaper sheets and then seem to peruse the words and pictures. She thought – maybe!!! I am so glad that she did for I cannot imagine my life without reading today. Since Mom was not into books, she would buy whatever she could find in the stores and would buy on her instincts, not any recommendation.
Those were tough days of emergency with hardly any money in the house. She would still save some and buy me a book here and there. In 70s-80s there was a rich influx of books, culture, food, etc from Russia and my mom ended up picking this gorgeous treasure trove from a Russian author on impulse. Mind you these are hard bound books and from”foreign”; so they weren’t cheap at all!
Title: Adventures of Dunno & his friends ; Eleven stories for boys & girls
Author: Nikolai Nosov
Genre: Children’s books / fiction / stories / Russian Literature for children
Publisher: House Moscow
Nikolai Nosov (1908-1976) was a children’s literature writer from Russia. His short stories were first published in a Russian magazine for children – Murzilka which formed the basis of his first short story collection. He was awarded the RFSFR State prize in 1969. His most popular tales are about a boy who constantly gets into troubles despite all his best intentions.
Adventures of Dunno and his friends talk about this one very curious little boy who loves to do things but has no clue how to do them. So he blunders his way through, thinking he is doing it right but lands up in the most comic situations as a result of it. BTW this tale is set in the land of boys where everyone is a boy and specialises in something or the other. The land is called Flower town and everyone is a midget sized person though all the fruits, vegetables and flowers that grow there are normal sized. So they devise ingenious ways of harvesting the food.
Dunno means I don’t know and he has a antichrist who is called Donno which means I know. So Dunno sets about town to impress folks without ever lifting a finger and everyone is fed up of his tall tales of bravado, intelligence and what not. All his scrapes are unravelled by Donno who is extremely knowledgeable and intelligent.
Donno hits upon the bright idea of constructing a hot air balloon to go traveling the world. He sets about task force in the town to collect rubber, dandelion stalks, etc for making the balloon. Dunno is not given any job and he struts around as if its him who has undertaken this task. So he goes about lending useless advice and making predictions of the balloon crashing even before taking off.
Finally the balloon is ready and Donno readies a team to travel with him. Somehow Dunno convinces him to take him along. The balloon lifts well and sails over the town ascending higher and higher till it’s not sighted by the townsfolk below. The winds carry the balloon some miles when the air in it begins to cool. To prevent the rapid descent, Donno starts to throw the sand bags tied around the basket for this very purpose. Once the bags are over, there is nothing more to throw overboard to lessen the weight.
The balloon drifts down and finally crashes, throwing everyone out of it. When the boys gain consciousness, they realise they are in a town where everyone is a girl and its a town where mechanisation has been used very creatively to harvest the fresh produce. The girls seem to be far more industrious than the boys.
This is the beginning of a mutual exchange between the two communities who up until now were not aware of each other’s existence.
Eleven Stories For Boys & Girls
This is a collection of everyday life tales which feature young children who seem pretty independent and enterprising. They are all around 9-12 years old or perhaps a little older and all of them seem to know their mind. The Eleventh story in this book is about a young boy who discovers the topic of incubation during a science class and becomes fascinated by it. He secretly sets up a incubating unit at home with a desk lamp, some hay, cardboard box and some eggs. Initially he takes out the eggs from the fridge and tries to get them to hatch. But then he learns that the eggs need to be freshly laid as those are still warm with life. Through many trial and error, our young hero gets the set up right.
Now begins his vigil for he has to rotate the eggs every few hours to ensure its evenly warmed on all sides. He marvels at mother hen for all her ingenuity for it seems she uses her beak to turn them around. Slowly news of his experiment travels and first he is laughed at. But later his friends get intrigued too. Now he has volunteers for baby sitting as he had been staying up nights to look after the eggs.
Finally the eggs hatch, though not all and the young boys are delighted with their success. They shed their tears for the ones that “died” and now take care of the every chirpy and fidgety chicks that seem to be hell-bent on escaping all over the house.
Lasting Impression on me:
Both these tales are told in a very simple manner, keeping in mind that kids will be reading them. But the imagination visualised in the stories is simply superb. The fairytale towns of boys and girls who are mite sized is fascinating. Their adventures and creativity to engage technology to do their work is incredible as they are mite sized and handle things three times their size.
Best part about both the books is that they could be set anywhere. I didn’t need to be brought up in Russia or have knowledge of Russian culture to absorb the story. There are hardly any colloquial nuances; these stories seem evergreen and could be from any part in the world.
I recently checked their availability and pricing and was shocked to know how expensive they are. But still if you can, I would recommend them for your children to savour the thrill of reading about some adventurous and ingenious children. And yes my rating is 5 *****!!!!!
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Have you read any literature from Russia? please do share your thoughts on it?
I am on a no-book-buying pact as I am pretty much broke; not to mention that I am running out of space as well!! But incase anyone wants to trade their books or send me gifts, please do check out my Wishlist on Amazon & Want to read on Goodreads.
Coming up tomorrow is [S] for the Indian Sherlock Holmes
For the uninitiated, AtoZ challenge is a blogging challenge wherein one has to write on every alphabet from A to Z and post on all days of April, except Sundays. Usually its better to devise a theme as it makes it easy to write the posts. Plus readers have a reason to stay hooked too.
Some of my previous posts you might be interested in catching up on
29 thoughts on “[R] From Russia with love #Atozchallenge”
Seems an interesting read shalz. Will ask my brother to look for this for his daughter.
Oh yes pls do Deep; these are some very well written stories. The one on hatching chicks is so novel and unique that I had wondered if I dared do something like it 😉
All the best children’s writing is non-cultural-specific… what lovely memories for you! YAM xx
I guess you are right there Yamini. I cherish these books like anything as they are few of my childhood treasures that I can recall I possessed 😉
Sounds lovely! When I read your title for R – From Russia with Love, I thought you were going to talk about the Bond movie with the same name. Ha ha! Would love to get my hands on these books, Shalini! Hope I can and read to my daughter when she is 8-9 years old.
Oh yeah I didnt even think of that when posting this; just got the title in my head somehow. Must be a sub conscious thought 😉 I hope you do find these books though they are super expensive as I was seeing when checking them out on Amazon.
Oh they are on Amazon! Will surely buy or get someone to buy for me! 😉
Rich gurl ;-)!!!
No will rope in someone rich 😉
Sounds wonderful Shalz.
Thanks Namy- these books are wonderful. I have such chreished memories of reading them. Next time I go home I plan to dig them out and bring back!!! 🙂
Sending this post to rich parents with kids 😛
Ha ha ha… I know what you mean girl. These books are super expensive now. I am so glad I have a copy of these which were brought about 35 years back 🙂
Ha ha haha 😀
The image of two year old you peeping at the papers is too cute.
Russian books and book fairs were such a treat. Do you remember a magazine called Misha? I taught myself the Russian alphabet-thank to Misha. In fact, I used to write my name in Russian on my school books to be cool! HA! HA! For a while, I used to think I’d end up marrying a Russian. I knew how to write my name –so that’s plenty for matrimony:)
Thank you for jogging my Russian memories with this post Shalini.
Hope your father is feeling better.
R is for #RallyforRivers
Oh Yes I remember Misha- that was one fun mag- only one I saw for kids as a kid 😉 I uesed to try and do the same thing – try and write russian – it was so much fun no! And yes I wished my name was Misha and I wanted a friend called Nikolai – hadnt thought of matrimony but your idea was just right 🙂
Can relate to reading Russian books as child. We had a Russian Folktales, and I was fascinated by names of the princes and princesses and the descriptions of the palaces.
Russia is my dream travel destination. Your book reviews broght back happy reading memories 🙂
I too want to travel to Russia some day and meet maybe a Vladimir or Nikolai; might change my name to Misha 😉 I will dig these books out and maybe do an individual review of the stories in a few months. I have about 4 such books!
How wonderful to hear how your mother encouraged your reading, and the fond memories you have. I had a book about Russian tales when I was a child that had the most delightful illustrations. Many years later, as an adult, I found a copy of it in our local library – how fun to see it again.
Yes full credit to her for my love of books and reading. These books too have lovely illustrations which are not cartoonish but more water colour and sepia tones with BW renderings.
oh wow! That IS expensive! I wish I could read them though 😛
Kohl Eyed Me
Awww I hope you do – these are really very cute stories!! 🙂
I admit to thinking of Russian literature as fairly dark and depressing, even the humorous ones! I assume Dunno and Donno must have been translated from the Russian equivalents?
I’ve always loved Russian fairy tales, which I read as a child and later. Who can resist Baba Yaga and her house on chicken legs? Whenever I use my mortar and pestle I think of her, using this tool to fly around.
Oh yes Baba Yaga was one scary witch. I remember thinking Vasilisa the Beautiful is just another version of Cinderella – what do you think?
Yes Dunno and Donno are both translations – I loved this story book as it had doll sized characters who were alive and got into doing all sorts of grown up things 🙂
It was the same story at our end. My mom was not into reading books, but she did read the newspapers and magazines avidly. Seeing her I got involved into reading and then she encouraged me to go the library at our club and school and rest is history as they say….
I remember reading a lot of Russian books as a kid, dont remember the names now.
Looks like someone has bought the book after reading your post for it is unavailable now 😀
Ohhhh is it? Wow someone sure spent heavy bucks on it for its pretty steeply priced. I had read some fairy tales too – The firebird, Vasilisa the beautiful and others. Baba Yaga was the witch who flew in a mortar and pestle 😉
I am glad our moms inculcated this habit in us – I am so grateful for it!
My mom loved reading when she was young and she was the one who kindled this interest for books in me. I cant thank her enough!
Hooray to the moms Aks- what would we do without them 🙂