Literature and Activities from Russia, East Europe, and Eurasia


These literature lists were provided by Global Literature in Libraries and the CREES community. Most literature can be ordered online through commercial publishers, or by interlibrary loan (if indicated). Global Literature in Libraries is currently building out a searchable catalog of youth translations and can be found here.

Bulgaria

Folk Tales & Fables from Bulgaria by Roberta Moretti, Editor. Translated by Diana Nikolova. Sofia: Via Lettera, 2016.

  • This collection contains thirty of the most famous and loved Bulgarian folk tales and fables. Embark on a journey into the wonderful world of Bulgarian folklore, inhabited by brave men fighting dragons and monsters, charming maidens finding their prince, magical life-giving water saving heroes, and good-hearted people winning over evil forces.

 

Czech Republic

Little Mole's Adventures from Spring to Winter / Bilingual English - Czech Book by Zdenek Miler. Published by Zdenek Miler, Katerina Miler, 2011.

  • Czech/English stories about Mole and his adventures helping a little bird, saving flowers, making jam, and playing in snow. Little Mole or “Krtek” is a popular animated character created by Czech animator Zdenek Miller.

 

Croatia

Croatian Tales of Long Ago by Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić. Illustrated by Vladimir Kirin. Translated by F.S. Copeland. London, George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1924 (first published). Reprint, Forgotten Books, 2018.

  • Enter a world of mysterious woods, towering mountains, cloaks of dazzling gold and doting grandfathers. Heroes face the darker realities of life, and yet conquer and win the day. Also available by interlibrary loan

The Brave Adventures of Lapitch by Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić. Illustrated by Harold Benson. New York: H.Z. Walck, 1972. English version by Lorna Wood based on a translation by Theresa Mravintz and Branko Brusar.

  • A shoemaker’s apprentice runs away from his unreasonable master and embarks on a week’s adventures with an orphan girl and a dog. Available by interlibrary loan

 

Poland

The Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse. Illustrated by Wendy Watson. New York: Scholastic Press, 2004.

  • Newbery medalist Karen Hesse tells a harrowing, true story about life in the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII. When Hesse came upon a short article about cats outfoxing the Gestapo at the train station in Warsaw, she couldn't get the story out of her mind. The result is this stirring account of a Jewish girl's involvement in the Resistance and our passionate will to survive

King Matt the First by Janusz Korczak. Adapted, illustrated, and translated from Polish by Itzchak Belfer. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1986.

  • Young Matt was just ten years old when he had to ascend the throne and become king after his father’s death. When three kings declare war on his kingdom, he decides to fight them and manages to make peace using his good nature and human compassion. One of the most beloved works of 20th century literature.

Locomotive by Julian Tuwim. Illustrated by Lewitt and Him. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2017.

  • Three beautifully illustrated classic Polish tales. Children learn what’s inside each train carriage as it chugs along, how many friends and animals it takes to pull up a turnip, and what happens when birds of all kinds gather for a meeting in the woods.

Maps by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski, and illustrator. Somerville, MA: Big Picture Press, 2013.

  • One of the most famous books for children in Poland, with millions of copies sold. This book of maps features not only borders, cities, rivers, and peaks, but also places of historical and cultural interest, eminent personalities, iconic animals and plants, cultural events, and many more fascinating facts associated with every region. 

Maps Activity Book by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski, and illustrator. UK: Big Picture Press, 2014.

  • Following the best-selling Maps, the Mizielinskis return with a companion activity book, bursting with fascinating facts and puzzles from around the world. The myriad activities challenge the reader to discover something new and explore their imagination to draw, decorate and design on every pull-out page.

 

Russia

Crocodile Gene and his Friends by Eduard Ignatowicz Uspenski, and illustrator. New York: Knopf, 1994.

  • A small animal moves to the city, meets a crocodile and a young girl, and together they help others who are looking for friends. It gives a hint of what life was like in the Soviet Union (the episode of buying bricks). A true gem of Soviet literature for young kids.

Uncle Fedya, His Dog, and His Cat by Eduard Uspenski. Illustrated by Vladimir Shpitalnik. Translated by Michael Heim. New York: Knopf, 1993.

  • When he cannot convince his parents to let him keep the talking cat that he found, Fedya runs away from home and sets up housekeeping with the cat and a talking dog.

Malachite Casket [Box]: Tales from the Urals by Pavel Petrovich Bazhov. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1945 (first published). New edition, Fredonia Books, 2002.

  • A collection of fairy tales and folk tales of the Ural region of Russia. It is written in contemporary language and blends elements of everyday life with fantastic characters. Bazhov’s stories are based on the oral lore of the miners and gold prospectors.

 

Serbia

Nine Magic Pea-Hens: and other Serbian Folk Tales by Vuk Stefanović Karadžić. Translated by John Adlard. Edinburgh: Floris, 1988.

Serbian Fairy Tales: 1 (Myth and Legend) by Vuk Stefanović Karadžić. Translated and introduced by Jelena Ćurčić. Illustrated by Rosanna Morris. London: Flying Fish, 2013.

Serbian Fairy Tales by Elodie Lawton Mijatovich, and translator. Illustrated by Sidney Stanley. New York, R.M. McBride & Com 1921.

Serbian Folk Songs, Fairy Tales and Proverbs by Maximilian August Müegge. FORGOTTEN Books, 2015.

Hero Tales and Legends of the Serbians: A Collection of Serbian Folklore, Fairy Tales and Poetry, with a History of Serbian Culture by Woislav M. Petrovitch. London, G.G. Harrap & Company, 1914 (first published). Adansonia Press, 2018 (Reprint).

  • Commencing with an introduction of Serbia's customs and folk beliefs, we are thrust into an ancient and exotic culture with a history stretching back thousands of years. Petrovitch tells how the finest poetry of the Serbian mythos was spread. The first legend is the hero saga of Kralyevitch Marko, a Royal Prince whose adventures were numerous and gallant.

 

Slovenia

Hustle the Dragon by Kajetan Kovič. Illustrated by Jelka Reichman. Translated by Andrej Hiti Ozinger. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, Rotografika, 2017.

Magic Muri by Kajetan Kovič. Illustrated by Jelka Reichman. Translated by Lili Potpara and Alan McConnell Duff. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, Rotografika, 2017.

A Treasury of Slovenian Folklore: 101 Folk Tales from Slovenia by Monika Kropej. Translated by Matjaz Schmidt. Illustrated by Zvonko Coh, Andrejka Cufer, and Milan Eric.

  • Tales about mythical creatures, magical beings, guardians of treasures, and heroes and figures from history. The folk tales remain true to the original narratives from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Available by interlibrary loan

12 Slovenian Folktales = 12 Slovenskih Ljudskih Pripovedi by Dušica Kunaver and Brigita Lipovšek, compilers. Illustrated by Igor Ribic. Translated by Dusica Kunaver. Zbirka Spomincice / Imprimo; Ljubljana: Imprimo, Grafis Trade, 2012.

Sapra the Little Mouse by Svetlana Makarovič. Illustrated by Gorazd Vahen. Translated by Alan McConnell Duff. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, Rotografika, 2017.

Slipper Keeper Kitty by Ela Peroci. Illustrated by Ančka Gošnik Godec. Translated by Irena Duša. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, Rotografika, 2017.

 

Ukraine

Kazki na nich. Bedtime Fairy Tales. Bilingual Book in Ukrainian and English: Dual Language Stories (Ukrainian and English Edition) by Svetlana Bagdasaryan. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.

  • When a father must travel on business, his daughter misses his bedtime stories. When away, the father calls his daughter to read her a story. Her favorite fairy tales are collected in this book, including famous tales from Hans Christian Andersen, brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault.

Nauka u kazkah. Science in Fairy Tales. Bilingual Book in Ukrainian and English: Dual Language Picture Book for Kids (Ukrainian - English Edition) by Svetlana Bagdasaryan. Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2016.

  • A series of short fairy tales, in which children will learn that water in nature can occur in three states: liquid, solid, and vapor.

My Ukrainian American Story by Adrianna Oksana Bamber, and illustrator. San Francisco, California: A. Bamber, 2017.

  • Journey with the author as she shares her Ukrainian American experience. Explore a vibrant world filled with the customs, food, crafts, music and holiday traditions passed down from generations of Ukrainians. Oksana's appreciation of her culture empowers children to celebrate their heritage.

The Mitten: A Ukrainian Folktale by Jan Brett, and illustrator. New York: Putnam, 1989.

  • Grandmother Baba makes white mittens for Nicki. When Nicki loses one mitten, the animals find shelter inside the mitten. The bear sneezes and the animals fly out of the mitten. The mitten sails up into the air and Nicki finds it. Lovely Ukrainian folktale adapted by Jan Brett.

Ukrainian Folktales: The Collection of Folktales from the Ukraine Consists of One Book with 27 Folktales by Elena N. Grand. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.

  • Immerse yourself in the magic world of Ukrainian fairy tales and culture.

 

Other

How Does a Lighthouse Work? by Roman Belyaev, and illustrator. London: B Small Publishing, Ltd., 2018.

  • Discover fascinating facts about lighthouses and how they work. Journey through the science and history of lighthouses around the world.

Fairy Tales of Eastern Europe by Neil Philip. Illustrated by Larry Wilkes. New York: Clarion Books, 1991.

  • Tales from traditional folklore of Eastern Europe. Whether the setting is a poor cottage deep in the forest, a small village, or a king’s court, each story reveals a characteristic preoccupation with routines of family and community life, and a humorous perspective on people and their affairs.

Czech Republic

I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from the Terezin Concentration Camp, Czechoslovakia 1942-1944 by Hana Volavkova, editor. Afterword by Vaclav Havel. Schocken, 1994.

  • Fifteen thousand children under the age of fifteen passed through the Terezin Concentration Camp. Fewer than 100 survived. In these poems and pictures drawn by the young inmates, we see the daily misery of these uprooted children, as well as their hopes and fears, their courage and optimism. 60 color illustrations.

 

Croatia

The Brave Adventures of Lapitch by Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić.

  • Please see the description in the section for younger children. For children, ages 5-10.

Happy Days by Miro Gavran. Zagreb: La Valleta, 2003.

  • Two eleven year old boys, who are best friends, want to become brothers. One of them has only a father, and the other has only a mother. The young heroes set up many opportunities for their parents to get to know each other, to lead them to the alter, and the realization of their dreams. A delightful story about children who want to have a whole family. Also available by interlibrary loan

 

Poland

King Matt the First by Itzchak Belfer.

  • Young Matt was just ten years old when he had to ascend the throne and become king after his father’s death. When three kings declare war on his kingdom, he decides to fight them and manages to make peace using his good nature and human compassion. One of the most beloved works of 20th century literature.

The Safest Lie by Angela Cerrito. New York: Holiday House, 2018.

  • Nine-year-old Anna Bauman is one of many Jewish children who Jolanta (code name for the real-life World War II Resistance spy Irena Sendler) smuggles out of the Warsaw ghetto. Anna, given a new name and false papers, must keep her true identity secret. Ironically, she discovers that the most difficult part isn't remembering her new identity, but trying not to forget the old one. Anna's story sheds light on another aspect of the Holocaust: rescued children who lost not only their loved ones, but their very identities and Jewish heritage.

The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric Kelly. Illustrated by Janina Domanska. Aladdin, 1992.

  • When Joseph and his family seek refuge in medieval Krakow, they are caught up in the plots and intrigues of alchemists, hypnotists, and a dark messenger of evil. Will Joseph be able to protect the great Tarnov crystal and the city from the plundering Tartars?

 

Russia

Malachite Casket [Box]: Tales from the Urals by Pavel Bazhov.

  • Please see the description in the younger children section.

The Two Captains by Veniamin Kaverin. New York: Modern Age Books, 1942. Fredonia Books, 2003 (Reprint).

  • Based on the diary of Lieutenant Georgii Brusilov, who in 1912 organized an expedition seeking a west-to-east Northern sea route. It was later seized by ice and carried to the north of the Kara Sea. The expedition survived two hard winters. An amazing read about brave men, revolution, villians, suffering, the Arctic and love! One of the most popular works of Soviet literature.

Catlantis by Anna Starobinets. Illustrated by Andrzej Klimowski. Translated by Jane Bugaeva. New York Review Children’s Collection, 2016.

  • Baguette, a seemingly ordinary house cat, is a descendant of the magic Catlanteans who lived long ago in peace and happiness on the island of Catlantis. When he falls in love with the alley cat Purriana, she insists Baguette accomplish a heroic feat before she’ll agree to marriage. Baguette must travel into the past to bring back the Catlantic flowers that will grant every cat nine lives.

In the Wolf’s Lair: A Beastly Crimes Book by Anna Starobinets. Illustrated by Marie Muravski. Translated by Jane Bugaeva. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2018.

  • An elderly detective, Chief Badger, oversees an animal community and solves its petty crimes, from stolen pine cones to plucked tail feathers. His restless assistant, Badgercat, longs for some excitement — a desperate crime, a beastly crime! The brash youngster's hopes are realized when some croaking frogs reveal the shocking news of Rabbit's murder. The woodland detectives set out to discover the truth.

The Raven’s Children by Yulia Yakovleva. Translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp. Puffin Publishing, 2018.

  • Based on the true story of the author’s family, this novel takes place in Russia in 1938, a time of great terror. A young boy desperately seeks his family after they mysteriously disappear, taken by “The Raven.” He decides to hunt down the Raven, finding help in the most unexpected places but facing more danger than he has ever known.

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin. New York: Henry Holt, 2011.

  • Now that it’s time for Sasha to join the Young Pioneers, everything seems to go wrong. He breaks a classmate's glasses and accidentally damages a bust of Stalin. And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night. A moving story of a ten-year-old boy's world shattering, both powerful and heartbreaking. Based on the author’s life. A Newbery Honor book for upper elementary age children. Great read for a social studies unit.

 

Ukraine

My Ukrainian American Story by Adrianna Oksana Bamber, and illustrator. San Francisco, California: A. Bamber, 2017.

  • Journey with the author as she shares her Ukrainian American experience. Explore a vibrant world filled with the customs, food, crafts, music and holiday traditions passed down from generations of Ukrainians. Oksana's appreciation of her culture empowers children to celebrate their heritage.

Albania

Albanian Folktales and Legends: Selected and Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie, compiler and translator. Dukagjini Publishing House, 2001.

  • A collection of folktales and prose versions of some of the bestknown Albanian legends. The adventures of Muja and Halil and their band of mountain warriors are still told and indeed sung in epic verse, and the exploits of the great Scanderbeg, the Albanian national hero who freed large parts of the country from Turkish rule in the 15th century, are recounted everywhere Albanians gather, as if events five centuries old had taken place yesterday.

 

Central Asia

The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov. Translated by John French. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983.

  • Set in the vast windswept Central Asian steppes and the infinite reaches of galactic space, this powerful novel offers a vivid view of the culture and values of the Central Asian peoples.

When the Edelweiss Flowers Flourish by Begenas Sartov. Covent Garden: Hertfordshire Press, 2012.

  • Sartov, renowned Soviet science fiction writer, gives a spectacular insight into life in the Soviet Union in the late 1960s. The story explores Soviet life, traditional Kyrgyz life, and life on planet Earth through a Science Fiction story, based on an alien nation’s plundering of the planet for life giving herbs.

 

Russia

Amphibian Man by Alexander Belyaev. Translation and cover art by Maria K. Edited by PubRight Manuscript Services. First publication in 1928. TSK Group LLC, 2014.

  • Argentinian doctor Salvator, a scientist and a maverick surgeon, performs a lifesaving transplant on his son, Ichthyander. While the experiment was a success, it limited the young man's ability to interact with the world outside his ocean environment. Pedro Surita, local pearl gatherer, learns about Ichthyander and tries to exploit the boy's superhuman diving abilities.

Professor Dowel’s Head by Alexander Belyaev. Translation and cover art by Maria K. New York. Macmillan, 1980

  • When Marie Lauren, a young medical school graduate, takes a job as an assistant to a famous surgeon, she enters a nightmare world she realizes she cannot escape. Instead of a promising medical career, she ends up in the middle of a fight for her life and sanity, where she can trust no one and where everything she believed in is put into question.

The Crimson Sails by Alexander Grin. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1978. Later edition translated by Irina Lobatcheva and Vladislav Lobatchev. Edited by Amanda Bosworth. Parallel Books, 2011.

  • A classic adventure tale of love and hope in one’s dreams. A hopeful young girl has been ostracized in her village. When a mysterious storyteller informs her of a massive ship with crimson sails that will come for her, she becomes even more isolated from her neighbors. In a surprising twist, her prophecy comes true in a most unexpected way.

The Two Captains by Veniamin Kaverin. New York: Modern Age Books, 1942. Fredonia Books, 2003 (Reprint).

  • Based on the diary of Lieutenant Georgii Brusilov, who in 1912 organized an expedition seeking a west-to-east Northern sea route. It was later seized by ice and carried to the north of the Kara Sea. The expedition survived two hard winters. An amazing read about brave men, revolution, villians, suffering, the Arctic and love! One of the most popular works of Soviet literature.

Playing a Part by Daria Wilke. Translated by Marian Schwartz. New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 2015.

  • The first young adult novel translated from Russian, a brave coming-out, coming-of-age story. Grisha adores everything about the Moscow puppet theater where his parents work, but life outside the theater is not so wonderful. Life gets worse when Grisha learns that Sam, his favorite actor and mentor, is moving. How Grisha overcomes these trials and writes himself a new role in his own story is heartfelt, courageous, and hopeful.

 

Slovenia

Cosies on the Flying Spoon by Svetlana Makarovič. Illustrated by Matjaz Schmidt. Translated by Sonja Kravanja. Series the Cosies, No. 2. Ljubljana: DZS, Mladinska knjiga, 1994.

My Umbrella Can Turn into a Balloon by Ela Peroci. Illustrated by Marlenka Stupica. Translated by F.S. Copeland. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 1962.