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.
The A to Z Challenge is created by Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out
and co-hosted by
Alex J. Cavanaugh of Alex J. Cavanaugh
Jeremy Hawkins of Hollywood Nuts
John Holton of The Sound of One Hand Typing
J Lenni Dorner of Blog of J. Lenni Dorner
Some of my previous posts you might be interested in catching up on