Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo, 1930. Item #1276
28,  pp.: ill. 17,5x13 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Stamps of Gosizdat archive on t.p., p. 17 and rear side of front cover, otherwise very good and clean copy.
First and only edition. Scarce.
This juvenile book is about young peasant correspondents who wanted to visit America and turned up in a Siberian sovkhoz (state-owned farm) where American machinery was used.
This motif of tractors and other agricultural machines is shown in cover design and illustrations. The design was created by Mikhail Skuliari (1905-1985). The Odessa-born artist studied in Samara and Irkutsk studios, then in the Academy of Arts under K. Petrov-Vodkin in 1926-1930. In 1934-1941, Skuliari contributed to the activity of the City Committee of RABIS Artists and Illustrators. According to this edition, he devoted himself to book design even earlier.
Skuliari impressively depicted harvesting wheat with combine harvesters accompanied by tractors. He drew them diagonally, following one of the principles of the 1920s children’s books, placing machines between bright yellow space of untouched wheat field and dark soil after picking and collecting crops. The artist also produced four monochrome full-page illustrations demonstrating the life of the sovkhoz and their agricultural machinery.
The book was published when industrialization was at full blast. Tractors were first bought abroad and in particular, were sent into new kolkhozes and sovkhozes formed in Siberia. Then Soviet industry had been developed enough and local factories began widespread production of domestic tractors – they became a symbol of industrialization and settlement campaigns.
This book was written by children’s author Vasilii Kuzmin (pseud. Valov; 1902-1941). He debuted in the mid-1920s, mainly contributing to children’s magazines ‘Chizh’, ‘Ersh’, ‘Koster’, but published some separate books. His works were printed during his lifetime and after.
The only copy is located in NYPL.