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It Happened like This

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After his work for adults was censored in the late 1920s, Daniil Kharms (1905-42) began writing the stories and poems that would establish him as one of today's best-loved children's authors in Russia. This, the first English-language selection of his children's work, showcases ten of his most popular creations, including a hilarious send-up of Aesopian fables featuring a five-legged crow who runs into a fox one day while out shopping for coffee - a story that exemplifies Kharms's genius for absurd comedy. ...
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Overview

After his work for adults was censored in the late 1920s, Daniil Kharms (1905-42) began writing the stories and poems that would establish him as one of today's best-loved children's authors in Russia. This, the first English-language selection of his children's work, showcases ten of his most popular creations, including a hilarious send-up of Aesopian fables featuring a five-legged crow who runs into a fox one day while out shopping for coffee - a story that exemplifies Kharms's genius for absurd comedy. Accompanying the translations are pictures every bit as wild and crazy as the texts they illustrate.

Brief stories and poems written in an absurdist style by this Russian author who died in exile.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sheree vanVreede
Daniil Kharms was one of Russia's most-loved children's authors in the 1920's and 1930's. This is a compilation of some of his stories and poems. As the preface tells us, his life was full of political turmoil and, as a writer, he faced persecution for his beliefs. Despite all of this, however, his writing is remarkably playful and funny, with goofy characters and circumstances. The illustrations are unique and meant to depict the Russian Revolutionary period in which Kharms was writing.
School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up--Kharms, a Russian author who "disappeared" during Stalin's regime, turned to writing for children when he could no longer safely publish his adult works. The 10 stories and poems presented here reflect an absurdist's view of life. The situations are often unsettling, the word images jarring, and the characters symbols for larger issues. In one story, a carpenter falls so often on the ice and is eventually so covered with bandages that his family no longer recognizes him and won't let him into his apartment. In one of the more accessible poems, people wave at balloons with hats, canes, rolls, cats, chairs, and lamps. Using a vibrant selection of colored inks, sketchy brushwork, and black outlining, Arnold's illustrations are a visual assault on the senses. Think of Dr. Seuss mingled with Marc Chagall. This may be the desired effect, but given the quirky, image-filled text, the pictures often seem unnecessary. It's as if every poem in Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends (HarperCollins, 1974) were illustrated by a dozen separate images. Some of the more successful artwork deals concretely with the social conditions of Stalinist Russia. For example, the poem "A Man Left His House" is perfectly complemented by a backdrop of search warrants. While this book will introduce Kharms's life and work to a larger audience, it is difficult to determine who that audience will be. The ideal readership may be older students who are studying the effect Communism had upon the Russian people.--Denise Anton Wright, Alliance Library System, Bloomington, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Ten absurdist poems and very short stories, written by Kharms (1905-1942) in Russia. At their best, as in "A Mysterious Case," of a portrait taken down for dusting that suddenly becomes a picture of someone else when rehung (upside down), or "Let's Write a Story," in which Sonya keeps commandeering her writing partner Boris's opening lines, the humor will play to young readers, but most of the stories are either fragmentary and surrealistic ("The Four Legged Crow"), or pointedly symbolic, or both. Arnold pays homage to the post-Revolution era's cultural ferment, as well as its severe lack of art supplies, with spiky figures rendered in thick, scratchy black lines and thin but vigorously applied color on wallpaper, wrapping paper, and even a montage of Soviet police documents. This evocative tribute to a writer unfamiliar to most US children will find its readiest audience in adults interested in children's books. (Picture book. 8+) .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374336356
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 10/5/1998
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD510L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.07 (w) x 10.57 (h) x 0.36 (d)

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