Specifically covering the period from 1920 to 1935 – shortly after the Russian revolution of 1917 – more than 250 examples of illustration and design are featured, alongside translations of the poems and stories they originally appeared alongside.
As well as being one of massive political upheaval, the era marked a bold new direction in children’s literature.
A common thread running throughout the various texts was one of hope and possibility, where ‘children and grown-ups alike would be free from the bitterness of ignorance’, according to the book’s publisher, Redstone Press.
‘What a treasury! The world of Russian children’s illustrated books in the first twenty years or so of Soviet rule is almost incomparably rich,’ says author Philip Pullman, who provides the book’s foreword.
He adds, ‘What were they doing, these commissars and party secretaries, to allow this wonderland of modern art to grow under their very noses?
‘I expect the rule that applies to children’s books was just as deeply interiorised in the Soviet Union as it has been in the rest of the world: they don’t matter. They can be ignored. They’re not serious.’
Inside the Rainbow : Russian Children’s Literature 1920-35: Beautiful Books, Terrible Times is published in October by Redstone Press (http://www.theredstoneshop.com/collections/latest-titles/products/inside-the-rainbow) priced £35.