Additional Book Information
Series: The New York Review Children's Collection
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
The Fire Horse: Children's Poems by Vladimir Mayakovsky, Osip Mandelstam and Daniil Kharms
Translated from the Russian by Eugene Ostashevsky
A boy wants a toy horse big enough to ride, but where can his father find it? Not in the stores, which means it’s got to be built from scratch. How? With the help of expert workers, from the carpenter to the painter, working together as one. And now the bold boy is ready to ride off in defense of the future!
Two trams, Click and Zam, are cousins. Click goes out for a day on the tracks and before long he’s so tired he doesn’t know where he is or how to get back. All he knows is he’s got to find Zam. Click is looking for Zam and Zam is looking for Click, and though for a while it seems like nobody knows where to find Click, good and faithful Zam is not to be deterred.
Peter’s a car, Vasco’s a steamboat, and Mikey’s a plane. They’re all running like mad and going great guns until, whoops, there’s a big old cow, just a plain old cow, standing in the road. What then?
The early years of the Soviet Union were a golden age for children’s literature. The Fire Horse brings together three classics from the era in which some of Russia’s most celebrated poets, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Osip Mandelstam, and Daniil Kharms, teamed up with some of its finest artists, Lidia Popova, Boris Ender, and Vladimir Konashevich. Brilliantly translated by the poet Eugene Ostashevsky, this is poetry that is as whimsical and wonderful as it is revolutionary.
Click to enlarge image
by Vladimir Mayakovsky, Osip Mandelstam and Daniil Kharms, translated by Eugene Ostashevsky
Pictures by Popova, Ender, and Konashevich, respectively, are wondrous to behold in their own right and as precursors to mid-20th-century Western picture-book art...A glimpse into Soviet children's-book illustration.
The early Soviet period was a miraculously rich time for children’s books and their illustration. . . The illustrations [to Mandelstam’s Two Trams] display great elegance. The artist, Boris Ender, plays with a very limited palette of colors—black, red and grey, with the occasional touch of light brown—and with simplified shapes, especially the recurring sweep of parallel tramlines. It’s a lovely example of less doing more.
A lesser-known product of early Soviet support for the arts was the breathtaking flowering of Soviet children’s literature, as witnessed by NYRB’s The Fire Horse, with its faithful reproductions of three books from 1925 to 1930.
—Ainsley Morse, Los Angeles Review of Books
Translator Eugene Ostashevsky has cleverly managed to transfer...playful aspects of the verse into English.
—Phoebe Taplin, Russia Beyond the Headlines