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  • Andrey UsachevAuthor–Russia

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A Renaissance man–this is how one may describe Andrey Usachev, considering all fields of his 30-year-long artistic activity. Born in 1958 in Moscow, he has been working as a poet, prose writer, playwright, educator, writer of songs, musicals and scripts for both the radio and television, and is now one of the most popular personages in the area of children's culture in Russia.

A turning point for his future career was his fourth year at the Moscow Institute of Electronics, when he decided to change his field of study for the Philological Faculty of Tver State University. In his master's thesis he focused on Daniel Harm's poetry for children. He started his own career writing poetry in 1985. In interviews, he states that it is poetry that he considers the most valuable artistic form in Russian children's literature. Usachev's poems focus to a large extent on words–their shape, multiple meanings, the way they function in tradition and culture. Exploiting the "teaching through play" rule, he uses humour to introduce the child reader into the fascinating world of language in his books of poems such as ABC for Santa Claus or The great mighty Russian language, a collection acquainting the reader with Russian "winged words", the title of which is a quote from Ivan Turgenev, a classic of 19th-century Russian literature.

As a prose writer, Usachev most frequently chooses the convention of fantasy, creating both humorous works, such as tales about the merry Ded Moroz and his adult, serious and principled granddaughter Snegurochka (All about Dedmorozovka), as well as serious, even philosophical stories, such as Little Ant, Big Thinker or Where does the Ocean End?

His output is prodigious, having created over 300 works for children in Russia, including Safety Advice for Everyday Life (for 7-10 year-olds), Declaration of Human Rights, My Geographical Discoveries and Learning to Save Energy (for 9-10 year olds). In addition to his poetry and prose, Usachev has written a great deal of works for stage, mainly for puppet theatres and musical programs. He has written or co-written around 15 plays. His plays have been performed in 50 theatres in Russia as well as in Ukraine and Belarus. At Soyuzmultfilm, Screen, Christmas Films and STV studios. Usachev created 25 animated films based on his stories and poetry, including one full-length film. He wrote scripts to two children's feature films and 40 episodes of Drakosha & Co TV-series. He has also spent a lot of time working on television. About a hundred of his children's programs were shown as part of his Merry Quampany just around 1995 and 1996.

Usachev has won many prizes and awards, including Russian "The Book of the Year" prize in 2005 for the poetry collection 333 cats. In the same year, he received The Golden Ostap Prize for his songs for children. In 2012, The great mighty Russian language was nominated for the IBBY Honour List. Usachev's books have been translated into a number of languages, including French, German, English, Chinese, Hebrew, and Polish. [End Page 32]



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