Moscow: GiZ, 1929.  pp. 22,5x19,5 cm. One of 10000 copies printed. Lithographed throughout. Original publisher’s illustrated wrappers. In a near fine condition, remarkable for the children’s book of the period.
Extremely rare with no copies found in US institutional holdings according to the Worldcat.
The first mention of the idea of this poem dates back to March, 1926. It was written before April 12, 1927, and published as a separate edition in January, 1929.
The famous masterpiece of the children’s book design of the 1920s, the book is enriched with chromolithograph layouts by Pyotr Aliakrinskiy (1892-1961), who is best known as a poster designer, he was the head of Yaroslavl department of ROSTA windows during the Civil War, and in the 1920s worked as a designer for the large format periodicals like Bezbozhnik and Krasnaya Niva.
Aliakrinskiy’s approach to illustrating a book is to use the space of the page spread to the maximum so each of the spreads could be seen as a poster in miniature. This could be ‘borrowed’ from the practice of Bezbozhnik magazine and several others that used their two pages in the middle of the block of every issue as an anti-religious poster.
In case of this book that Mayakovsky has called in drafts ‘Around the World’ this method worked out perfectly: in just a few pages such universal attractions as the Red Square with mausoleum, the Eiffel Tower, the Chinese pagoda, Fujiyama, and the panorama of the New York port are free to fit. Aliakrinskiy masterfully plays with the scales of the objects and the perspective, so all the attributes of the new world such as steamboats and planes look inevitably important in this changing world.
The book is a true celebration of the International ideals of the early Soviet ideology.
On April 12, 1927, Mayakovsky signed a contract with the children’s literature department of the State Publishing House (DETGIZ) and on the same day handed over to the publishing house the manuscript of two children’s books ‘‘Read and Roll to Paris and China’’ and “The Fire Horse”. During his stay in Prague in April of 1927, Mayakovsky said in an interview: “My newest hobby is children’s literature. It is necessary to acquaint children with new concepts, with a new approach to things. The result of these two books will appear soon”. Later in another interview he explained more why these two editions appeared: “I set myself the goal of instilling in children some elementary ideas about society, doing this, of course, in the most careful manner”.
All Mayakovsky’s children’s books printed during his lifetime are very rare especially in such condition.
No copies in US according to Worldcat.