Illustrations and text

It’s amazing how illustrations and text can work together in children’s literature to create new meaning.

A great example of the connection between the textual and the visual material is the 1925 Soviet children’s book Morozhenoe [Ice Cream] published by Raduga publishing house (Leningrad). It has the poem Morozhenoe written by the prominent children’s poet and translator Samuil Marshak (1887–1964). The book has illustrations by the painter and graphic artist Vladimir Lebedev (1891–1967).

The image of a strange fat man who eats too much ice cream in Marshak’s poem is transformed into the image of a greedy capitalist ice cream eater when Lebedev’s illustrations are added to the text. So, both the text and the visual representation create ideological opposition which is rather schematic and representative of the 1920s anti-bourgeois Soviet rhetoric: the hardworking ice cream man and good proletarian children against the gluttonous wealthy capitalist.

The whole poem in Russian with Lebedev’s illustrations can be found under this link:

Also there is a detailed analysis of Marshak and Lebedev’s Morozhenoe in  Sara Pankenier Weld’s book An Ecology of the Russian Avant-Garde Picturebook (Amsterdam: John Benjamins 2018) on pages 102-104. She considers this example as a development of the visual allegory of “the big fat man in a multidimensional manner” and looks at it through an ideological lens.

And more on ideology and illustrations in the 1920s Soviet children’s books can be found here:

The history of illustrations to Chukovsky’s Moydodyr

Illustrations to the 1923 poem for children Moydodyr (Wash ’til Holes) by the Russian poet, literary critic and translator Korney Chukovsky. Russian illustrators (1923 to present days) offer different interpretations of an anthropomorphic washstand Moydodyr and a small boy who doesn’t like to wash. Beautiful, colourful and even a bit scary, these pictures reflect the changing mood in society.

Read the article in Russian by the online magazine Дискурс (