Russian postcard-review contest on contemporary books for children and young adults
In the winter of 2016, the Laboratory of Socio-Cultural Educational Practices (at the Moscow State Teachers Training University) held the first postcard-review contest on contemporary books for children and young adults in Russia. The postcard-review is a little contemplation, inspired by a book, revealing its characteristics, and it should fit on an A6 size card (up to 1800 characters). It is well-known to librarians and publishers, but it is a completely new genre for teachers and young readers. The objectives of the contest were to inform teachers about the postcard-review genre as another good way of distributing information among professional readers about new and interesting books for children and young adults, and to draw the attention of teachers and school librarians to modern children’s and young adult literature.
The contest received good response and attracted forty-six people from thirteen Russian regions as well as one participant from the Republic of Kazakhstan. The contenders included librarians and language and literature teachers, as well as teachers of biology, chemistry, English, and even physical education. They were joined by a journalist, linguistics students, and university teachers.
The books chosen for review were of special interest for organizers of the contest. They reflected the variety of modern children’s literature and could be useful for publishers. All the books chosen by the contestants as their inspiration can be divided into two main groups: contemporary Russian literature and foreign literature.
The jury was amazed by the enthusiasm of the adult participants, as well as by their inspiration from children’s literature, which captures them, and forces them to reflect and sympathize. This is probably one of the most important results of this contest. Modern books for children and teenagers should meet their adult-readers – parents, teachers and librarians, who hopefully would find time to share their emotions with young readers. Many of the contestants also shared their useful experience of working with contemporary books at school and in after-school activities.
In the end, The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) chose two postcard-rewards for publication in Bookbird:
Anjelica Arapova from Novouralsk. Postcard-rewiew of Apocalypse of Anton Perchick by A. Nikolskaya;
Svetlana Korzhuk from Chelyabinsk. Postcard-review of Frosya Korovina by S. Vostokov. [End Page 56]
Stanislav V. Vostokov
Moscow, Russia: Klever Media Group, 2014. 112 pp.
(Fiction; ages 10-13)
Frosya Korovina by Stanislav Vostokov is a book that gives the reader a feeling of something intimate, known from childhood, but somehow forgotten. Frosya Korovina, the novella’s girl protagonist, lives on a farm with her grandmother. But it is not an ordinary farm: a talking hen accompanies Frosya when she is out with her bike; a coffee-drinking bear, Gerasim, helps around the house; and even the village drunkard, Nikanor, is unique—he loves singing in the choir and knows how to cast spells in the form of dark clouds. And yet the reader believes in all of it! Probably, it is because the action takes place in the small village of Papanovo, a real Russian village integrally connected to folk tales. Every reader will find something in this book. All its heroes are endearing and likable: Frosya and her granny, Aglaya Ermolayevna; the teacher, Pyotr Sergeevich; an A student, Petukhov; and the brothers Jmyhov. Even the “villain” Nikanor will evoke a kind smile and sincere sympathy. Just like in a real Russian fairy-tale, good will triumph over evil. Just like we feel attracted to our own home, so we want to reread this novella again and again.
S. V. Korzhuk
The Apocalypse of Anton Perchik
Anna O. Nikolskaya
Moscow, Russia: Vremya, 2014. 144pp.
(Fiction; ages 12+)
The Apocalypse of Anton Perchik is about the end of the world as we know it. But the title of Anna Nikolskaya’s story also plays with the original meaning of apocalypse as “revelation.” What is revealed to Anton Perchik, the spoiled teenage protagonist of this book, is the value of life and the importance of friends and family. For when everyone dies around him and life becomes a struggle, he realizes that he may have nobody to say “I’m sorry” to the next day; and as a spoiled teenager, he has a lot to feel sorry for. Although Anton has been surrounded by caring parents and friends, he has never shown them any gratitude or appreciation. Nor has he truly valued his own life before. In this short novel, Nikolskaya lets Anton tell us about his life before and after the catastrophe, sincerely and without embellishment. The author’s underlying question has to do with meaning. How does an eighteen-year-old know how much he is really worth? And what can make him change for the better? To start thinking? To wake up finally! Perhaps this book can work a positive change in its readers, because books are, after all, less lethal than zombies.
Angelika Arapova [End Page 57]