Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo, 1927. 24 pp.: ill. 28,5х23 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Covers restored, otherwise very good. Lithographed throughout.
A large-format children’s song book written by poet, prose writer and literary critic Natan Vengrov (1894-1962). His earliest books were released at the artel “Today” run by V. Ermolaeva. He was
the most prolific author of the association and the initiator of many of its undertakings. In 1918, he moved to Kyiv and worked for the People’s Commissariat for Education along with A. Gastev,
K. Mardzhanov, I. Ehrenburg and N. Shifrin. They created revolutionary holidays in Kyiv, mass literary evenings and concerts. In August 1919, the People’s Commissariat for Education of Ukraine
was shifted from Kyiv to Moscow. Since then, Vengrov collaborated with Russian Bolsheviks and traveled by agitation train through Siberia. Vengrov became influential in Soviet children’s
literature and contributed to the reception of many authors, including A. Barto, Z. Aleksandrov, E. Blaginina, L. Kassil and others. He argued that a children’s book can only be created collectively – by writer, artist, librarian and teacher – and put it into practice.
This edition of 9 songs was created in a common manner of 1920s constructivist children’s books. In it, technics and technologies are crucial elements of the construction of a happy country. In the book, a city constantly interacted with a village. A machine of a power station began to spin round and launched electricity to lamps in a peasant’s dwelling. A train is carrying fabric and tools to the province to exchange them for grain. People, horses, tractors and trains are depicted without background and often diagonally across a page. The book is surprisingly issued with two similar double-page images opening and closing the book that resemble illustrated endpapers. The front cover features workers of various countries and races.
Interestingly, a song “Oktiabriatskaia” [Little Octobrists’ Song] is illustrated with drawn children with red ties who are helping widow Avdotya with agricultural works instead of a died son. He was a sailor, so the book features a real photograph of the Baltic Fleet sailor. Songs were dedicated to the October Revolution, but the book was published after the authorities introduced the Gregorian calendar in Russia. So the song “Village in Celebration” enjoys a holiday on November 7. It also mocks a priest who doesn’t celebrate the main day of the atheist state.
For this book, a group of three artists was gathered. Alexandra Petrova (1896-1990) studied in the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts in Petrograd, then she entered the State Art Workshops, where studied with N. Kupreyanov. She became known more as a monumental artist and contributed to interior design of the Moscow metro. In contrast to her, Lidia Popova (1903-1951) was initially known as a book designer. In 1919-1924 she studied at VKhUTEMAS with A. Exter. Then she worked mainly as a poster designer and illustrator at Gosizdat and at the Molodaya Gvardiya publishing house. In particular, she designed the first edition of “Horse-Fire” by V. Mayakovsky.
They co-worked with Ryazan-born graphic artist Georgy Tuganov (1902-1941). He studied painting with artists M. Pyrin and Ia. Kalinichenko. During the Civil War, he headed a decorative workshop
and made linocuts for a newspaper. In 1922 he was sent to the woodcut department of VKHUTEMAS and later embarked on book design.
Worldcat shows copies located in Pennsylvania and Florida Universities, NYPL.