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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Where are the Soviet Books?

Last night I sat up flipping through books I grew up with – figuratively speaking. I was digging them out for a kid I like. This was a stab at re-educating her and showing her Blyton and Rowling aren’t the only ones. There they were – the What Katy Dids and the Little Women and the Black Beauties. And right behind were the Russian books. Yup I am from back when 'Faraway Tree' was still, well faraway.

When I was 6-7 the only English books available were the horrible IBH productions or the gorgeous, illustrated books procured from floating Soviet circuses and travelling book exhibitions. I am linguistically challenged so obviously they were translated versions. ‘The Adventures of Dennis - Twenty Years Under the Bed’ (Victor Dragunsky) and ‘When Daddy was a Little Boy’. They are stories about real boys, kids who know how daft grown-ups can be. Man, I love them…and you know there is nothing childish about these books. I can read them again and again, and I learn something new - mostly what sort of grown-up I ought not to be.

None of that flying broomstick shit, no fluffies, no slave elfs and none of that hogwart hogwash, these are kids the way they used to make ‘em. Before the telly and the Internet. The kid I once was – cept I wasn’t a boy. Where are these Russian authors? Were they deported for their insidious views? Or do they thumb through their books and reminisce on life behind the Iron Curtain. Where are the ‘Uncle’ books?

I cannot believe I actually found The Adventures of Dennis online. God Bless Google. Read this chapter


anita & amit said...

hey rama,
i like your caricature, and i like your writing! you bet kids these days need a shot of realism - i've had it up to here with JKR and EB, and the escapist spells they weave. Everyone says, "Oh but look, at least kids are reading now!" Yes but the point is they are reading nothing else! and i think if they are only going to read merchandise-driven escapist stuff, then what's the point, right? we love 'when daddy was a little boy' too!
stay in touch!

Mukta said...


I suppose I would have taken to Russian literature a little more gladly had I begun with the books you read instead of Anna godawful Karrenina. Actually, sour grapes on that front. I bought that book, I lost that book. :-) C'est la vie! (I wonder how they say that in Russian.)

Anonymous said...

Hey Rama,

Just wanted to say Hi to you.



ari4u said...

Kids these days are brainwashed. Nothing can be compared to the freedom and unlimited creativity of yesteryears.

thank you for stopping by my blog and for your comments. C'Ya around.

mathew said...

I love those bygone soviet books...Those were the only phoren possession i had those days...
U still have copies of em?

Prashanth said...

oh, do i know what you mean!
loved those russian works. countless hours lost in blissful meditation that only a small child can experience. have some chinese ones too. And kids today, sigh. times change, don't they?

pissed with everything said...

so what. maybe that is the reason they grow up so fast. the absence of preconcieved notions as what theier childhhod should be is not nessacarily a bad thing.let them read tolkien instead of the sickeningly sweet enid bytons

MellowDrama said...

Hi Anita, will definitely stay in touch with you guys

Mukta you sure missed out on the good stuff that Prashant, Mathew and moi lapped up.

Pissed with everything, you are the coolest guy I know, I swear. What is this a double identity crisis?

Atul Sabnis said...

i remember Sputnik too! Is there an equivalent these days? And of course the really wonderful storybooks. Yes, there was reality in those books that a kid could and would digest. I think i may still find a few of them somehwere. Thank you - brings back nice memories :)

LAK said...

Ooh, I read "When daddy was a little boy" too. And I remember bits out of it still! I don't own it---wish i did. I remember there used to be a lot of russian books around at one time. One used to get them as return gifts at birthday parties---they used to be one rupee or so, when Enid Blytons used to be seven rupees. Sigh---I'm feeling really old now!

Shankari said...

Hey! Thanks for the link and the memory of all those coloured picture books!

Alpana said...

I remember liking those russian books too because they were so glossy,but they smelt a little funny too. not that that was in anyway a deterrent.

How do we know said...

hey.. you have such a lovely blog here.. found myself reading one post after another!!! and yes.. my favoritest book in the world is a Russian book too... :-) So Cheers to those lovely Folk tales!!

Anonymous said...


I am not aware of Russion Literature in particular but i know what is Adeentures of Denis.

I read translation of this book in Marathi and i do like that book.

Now im 22 but i read the same once again. there was too much difference im reading it when i was 10 and now when im 22.

I still remember that book has Denis as main charactor and his friend Miska. Once can say stories are not amusing but its true description by o boy about himself and his sourroundings.

There is nothing special in a chapter when he mentions the day his sister was brought home but no one can take a break reading that chapter. The author has depicted my fine points of Childhood. the story stars for no reason to end with nothing but you still love it.

PS:-This is BEST BOOK i have ever read. Just want to speek so much about this book, hence wrote this big and (potentially)meaning less Blog

MellowDrama said...

Hey Anonymous - you didn't leave an email I didn't know the russian books were translated into Marathi!!! Yeah it is one of my fav books too...would you be doing who published the books in Marathi. Thanks for stopping by and yes, I think the Russian books sure changed a lot of lives:) That is what got me into reading more and more...and well, just grabbing whatever came into my hand! Cheers Rama

Devadatta said...

Hi Everyone,

The Soviet books were really amazing. I won't say Russian alone because I read Marathi translation of an awesome Turkmen book called "Soneri Pela" (Golden Goblet - nothing to do with fairies and elves) The author was Kayum Tangrikuliyev.. Adventures of Dennis was also very special.

And there was a book called "Don Bhau" (Two Brothers) about two young kids who travel with their Mom to Siberia to meet their Dad... after they hide hs letter telling them not to travel :-)

There was a war novel called Ivan (by Vladimir Bogomolov) and also some good books by Arkadi Gaidar..

Also lots of science and maths books.. much more interesting than school textbooks..

As to Marathi books, most were published by Raduga, Progress or Mir Publications (all based in USSR) Some were published by Lokmangmaya Gruha.. and most were translated by Anil Hawaldar. His autobiography is also pretty good..

Thanks for helping me re-living my childhood and if anyone knows the author of "Don Bhau" please let me know.


Harish Save said...

Hello All,

In my childhood, I had read one Russian translated story in Marathi called "Gulabi Ayalicha Ghoda" (Horse with pink mane). There were actually bunch of few short stories from Russia. If anyone know more about it please let me know. You can contact me directly here ->

Nikhil said...

dear friend,
it is with great pleasure & joy that i am writing this note-i can't tell you how ecstatic i was to find my dear childhood friend dennis on net(i am not fortunate enough to have the book,but i used to borrow the marathi translation from my friend,a coveted and jealously guarded possession of his!)when i saw the same old stories in english on net today through your blog(eg stories like:"heracha mrutyu","chenduvarachi mulagi",the story about the teddy bear and "sadovaya roadvaril traffic" etc.)tears welled up in my eyes(no kidding,no exaggeration),the feeling you get when you are meeting a dear relative after many years,after being swept away by a wave of nostalgia.I CAN'T THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR LETTING ME MEEET A LONG-LOST FRIEND,WHOM I HAVE BEEN SEARCHING IN VAIN FOR NERALY 10 YEARS!
talking about russian books publi by raduga and mir,have you read other books by them?i recollect reading "sundar vasilisa"&"suryakumari ani teecha rakshak.",the fairy tales collections,with grim Baba Yaga!but good old Dennis was the best!

Mellowdrama said...

Hi Nikhil
Hey I cannot get in touch with you - do leave me an email id or something. I know exactly what you I still have Dennis and WHEN DADDY WAS A LITTLE BOY tucked away in my book cupboard. I cannot bring myself to give it away - somehow. Your post was very touching and well, I felt the same when I stumbled across Dennis on the net and get this - a fan site for Baba Yaga was it - the evil witch who lived in a house that had hen's legs?!!!!!!!!!!! Hurrah for the RUssian books, if it wasn't for those I don't think I would be the bibliophile I am today

Sriram said...

I have nice Red, Hardbound book of Maxim Gorky, a collection short stories and first hand experiences of America his writings.
It belonged to my Uncle, who got this book for a highly subsidized price at school.
Their propoganda artwork is really cool. Should send you some of the things I've right click->saved.

Priya said...

I used to own many of the russian books translated in Marathi like "Majha Bhau Yuri", "Gulabi Ayalicha ghoda", "Chekov stort stories" etc..
I've been desparately trying to look for a copy of "Majha Bhau Yuri" by Valentine Gagarin and translated by Anil Hawaldar.
Does anybody know where I can find it? Your help is appreciated.

saadgi said...

hey!! I owe truckloads to you... thanks!!! I was searching for some remanants of misha,dennis and when daddy was a little boy.... and i got quite something to relive my memories. can you please send me anything more about 'when daddy was a little boy'...? i have managed to scavenge dennis and misha..
my email id:
thanks again!

Devadatta S. Rajadhyaksha said...

Hi friends,

Why not start a Yahoo group or an Orkut community about Soviet books? Also, perhaps we can scan the old Soviet books we have and upload somewhere.

I don't know much about website maintenance, but if someone can create a site, I can upload:

1) Dennis chya Goshti
2) Chhota Kubda Kurup Ghoda
3) Leo Tolstoy - Mulansathi Goshti

and maybe some more books if I search my old collection thoroughly..

I am reachable at



knvlibrary said...

hi ,
on russica's website the edition of 'adventure of dennis..." which you found is text version only, but in those glorious days the edition which we get was fully illustrated.
you can found more on our website:

Rajiv Gupta said...

I was trying to lay hands on the book "When Daddy was a little boy" by Alexander Raskin. I did stop by at your blog and 're-lived' my childhood. Eventually, I found the book in Poland and I requested by Polish colleague to buy on my behalf and send to me. I received the book within 2 weeks - that too as a present. God bless my Polish colleague. My daughter has been reading the stories ever since and I can see the twinkle in her eyes whenever she reads about 'little daddy' - which she thinks is my story!!!!

Anonymous said...

found some Old Russian books including "THE ADVENTURES OF DENNIS" at

When Dream and day unite said...

Hey Rama,

I have been looking for "when daddy was a little boy "for ages.No luck on Amazon either.. Unfortunately lost the book ( had lent it to someone as a kid) sigh..
If you hae any clue where to get it, Please let me knw.. managed to get a xeroxcopy of the book from some place.. but would love to have the book

aniket said...

Hi all,
I just can't tell you how happy I am to know that there are so many people who know about Dennis.Well about "our own Dennis."
I grew up reading " Dennischya Goshti" and "Don bhau" and I bet i havn't found books comparable to them.Those are the masterpieces.
The innocence those books reflect is just amazing.So real,so frank,so authentic.
I remember the days when I would cry reading some of the stories from "Dennis..".The stories at the end of the book were so touching...specially the last one.." Chenduvarchi Mulagi.."
I thank my parents that they shaped my childhood with such amazing books.Those russian books are ( were,i'd say) just incomparable.
Still when i read "Dennis " and "Don bhau" i feel like I'm that 11 year old Aniket,reading the book in mother's,moist winds are blowing outside and the same fantastic season of childhood is back.
I'd like to meet you all who have read and adored "Dennis".
I just love that book...!!

aniket said...

By the way,
if anyone wants I'm reachable at or

Do get in touch.Talking about "Dennischya Goshti" has always been very special thing.

Bless ya all.


Partha Bhai said...

Bengali story lovers visit

Anonymous said...


I am new to this whole thing and I am not sure who would read this or who would reply...
Please let me know if you can help me with my search for -- Russian/ Ukranian Folk tales translated in Marathi by Anil Havaldar.

Can you or some one who knows where I can find this book. and mail me on

Anonymous said...

just remembered a great poem from "Dennis chya goshti"

Vasyache baba ahet ganitat hushar
Shiktat Vasya sathi baba varshabhar
Kuthe ase dislay, kuthe ase aiklay
Ki ganite sodvaychi babani ani bhav khayacha Vasya ne


syed said...

how can we find those wonderful soviet books?
do you remember SIVKA-BURKA ?
let me remind you from what i have in my memory,a piece of a rhyme from the book SIVKA-BURKA translated into bengali:::
and the magic-horse would/will appear,and we would/will ride on,leap up to reach the sun.....
......LETSKEEPTHEFLAMEBURNINGCOMRADES....for our childhood's sake

Ajith said...

Hello rama,
I never thought I would find another soul who has read "the adventures of Dennis" in his/her childhood and goes on loving it forever!
Nice to know this....

varsha said...

amazing. i never knew that i 'll ever find anyone who understands why I am excited about dennis. if i am allowed to carry one thing to the next world, I'll carry this book along, believe me.
my daughter is 6 months old and i have already begun showing her the book, a marathi translation i had bought in one of those raduga exhibitions at school. i'll make sure that this is the first marathi book that she reads:)

Rinkesh Bansal said...

Do anyone have copy of "When daddy was a little boy" and can you post scanned copy of this book or send me the photo-copy of that book. I am ready to pay for it.

Thanks & Regards,

Mellowdrama said...

Hi Ritesh had a copy up for sale, you can check that out. It is horribly tough to get your hands on the USSR editions. I have an edition but it is in packing, that's a good idea, perhaps one day I shall scan it in and put it up for all to see...

Devadatta said...

Check out for more Russian stories translated in English. Includes Chuck and Geck (Don Bhau)

Anu said...

Hey... I LOVE When Daddy was a little boy...I'm hunting DESPERATELY for a copy... please please if you ever want to give it away, think of me - I'll buy it with pleasure!!Somebody borrowed my copy and never returned it. :(

Anon said...

If you love "Dennis chya Goshti"
please join the facebook page. :)

Swayam said...


There are over 40 comments here. You may not read this one. Victor Dragunsky's Adventures of Dennis was my first read when I was in 6th form. I love it.


Anonymous said...

Hi Rama!

Unfortunately your old link doesn't work. Please, use the following one:

Thanks and best regards,

Devadatta said...

OK - some interesting stuff. I got in touch with Peoples' Publishing House, Delhi and they still have some books printed in the USSR. Check their number on Google and talk to Mr. Negi, an extremely helpful and knowledgeable gentleman.

Also, Google for "Arvind Gupta" - his site has a large number of USSR books in PDF format.

We'll keep the flag flying here!

priyanka said...

hey very very happy to find so many people who have read "Dennis chya goshti" n "sundar Vasilisa"

im searching for these books for years!! if anybody can tell me any..i mean ANY information about these books..i will be the happiest person!! anything like who translated it into marathi or the name of the publishing house or ANYTHING!! please really counting on you guys...


Dooriyaan said...

we should share the limited treasure we have.

i hav 2 marathi books..

Nikhil said...

Great to hear that.

Anonymous said...

i have one copy extra., if you are interested to buy it , contact me at

Anonymous said...

Hey Devdatta, Any luck with finding author of Don bhau? I too had liked it a lot and have been going crazy looking for the original one. Please let me know in case you happen to know the author.

Devadatta said...

Hey Anonymous,

'Don Bhau' was written by Arkady Gaidar. The name in English is 'Chuk and Gek'.

You can find this and some other books at

Anonymous said...

Perhaps that was a rendition of Gaidar's Chuk and Gek.

Devadatta S. Rajadhyaksha said...

@Priya, I recently found 'Maza Bhau Yuri'. The scanned copy is available at