Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kashtanka by Anton Chekhov; illustrated by Gennady Spirin

Since I panned Tolstoy in my last post, I thought I would write about a Russian story I really liked. The best picture books have strong text AND strong art, the two elements creating an even better whole. This is the case with Kashtanka in the Gulliver Books edition illustrated by Gennady Spirin. Spirin's lush colours and rich details are a sensual delight. The watercolour paintings brought me right into the historical setting. Chekhov's story about a lost dog who is taken in by a circus clown has a gentle poignancy. The death in Kashtanka is that of a white goose named Ivan Ivanovich, and he is more genuinely missed than Ivan Ilych. A great book to share with children from preschool age up.

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