Anglo-American Graphic Novels about the Soviet Space Program

In the past couple of years, two graphic novels–one American and one British–have been published about the Soviet space race.  The first of these, Laika, by Nick Abadzis, was published by First Second in 2007 to great acclaim.  If you haven’t read this one, I highly recommend it.

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing calls Laika “haunting” and “sweet,” and Betsy Bird of A Fuse #8 Production (and the most well-known children’s book blogger in the U.S.) concludes that Laika, “…is an ode to dogs themselves. To the animals that we befriend and love and, ultimately, destroy. It’s also about history, humanity, and the price of being extraordinary. No one can walk away from this book and not be touched.”

(Don’t miss the comments to the Boing Boing post.  In them, you will find the lyrics to a Polish children’s song about Laika and well as a reference to other artistic works about the first dog in space.) 
Now a new graphic novel has come out in the U.K. (December 2010) commemorating the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s space flight.  Titled Yuri’s Day: The Road to the Stars, this graphic novel aimed at a teen and adult audience is attracting some interest in Russia.  Nick Dowson reports for The Moscow Times that Yuri’s Day–written by Piers Bizony, illustrated by Andrew King, and designed by Peter Hodkinson–has been well received and will soon be translated into Russian.  Indeed, the authors of Yuri’s Day are responding to comments and corrections at their website for future editions of the graphic novel and for the Russian translation.  It’s an interesting process, that’s for sure.

Here’s a review of Yuri’s Day: The Road to the Stars by Graham Southorn at Sky at Night Magazine (a BBC site).

The Kniguru Prize

kniguruOn November 11, 2010, the Bol’shaia kniga committee announced a new award, Kniguru.  This prize will be for the best Russian work of 2010 for children and young adults.  The organizers note that the name of the prize was chosen by children. (It’s pretty good, isn’t it?)
A panel of children’s book experts will select first a long list of nominated books and then a short list of the best for a jury of youngsters ages 10-16 (those registered on the official site) to consider.  This “jury” will ultimately choose the winning book whose author will receive an award of 300, 000 rubles.

A press release from February 4 announces that the contest has now closed and there will be 403 books considered. The Fairy Tale and Fantasy are most popular in this first year, with the Young Adult realistic novel in third place.


Welcome to the Working Group for Study of Russian Children’s Literature and Culture blog. My name is Kelly Herold (Grinnell College, Russian Department) and I am the blog administrator.

On this blog, you will find news about Russian children’s literature and culture, links to reviews, and announcements from the Working Group for Study of Russian Children’s Literature and Culture (WGRCLC).  We will be posting a few times per week, so check back often or put us in your blog reader.

If you are interested in blogging on Russian Children’s Literature and Culture on a regular basis, we welcome your participation.  Posts may be written in Russian or in English.  If you are interested in participating, please send me an e-mail.