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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Rainbow Book (The)
by Samuil Marshak
Age Range: 6-8
The Rainbow Book is a splendid collection of 27 witty verses by Russian poet and translator Samuil Marshak (1887-1964).
Ranging from The Lost Ring about a young girl who loses her ring and the multitude of animals who help her to find it, to a little boy who wouldn't go to bed in Hush-a-baby-hush. There is another poem that stands out from this collection, About One Schoolboy and Six Poor Marks in which a distressed boy returns home with a bad school report. When his parents confront him he gives the most absurd and ridiculous explanations about his poor school performance. There are many other lovely and humorous verses covering a variety of subjects including good manners, a hedgehog, the rainbow and two lazybones and the Cat.
Marshak collected these stories over many years and they were written at different periods of his life. This collection demonstrates his superb talent and showed he understood children's minds and behaviour using that knowledge to create the most amazing thought-provoking verses.
The illustrator Mai Miturich deserves special mention for the creation of the colourful range of pictures which are distinctive and unique, perfectly blending in with the playful nature of the written text. Marshak himself commented on the dust jacket of the book “there could hardly be anything more attractive than these pictures”. Another special mention must go to the translator, Dorian Rottenberg. The task of translation is not an easy one, but when it comes to translating poetry it acquires a different approach because of the complexities of the genre. Rottenberg has managed to give each poem a particular flavour and has kept its intention truthful to its original Russian text, maintaining the names of cities and characters.
Marshak was a poet and translator, (he translated Shakespeare’s sonnets into Russian), and was a prominent literary figure in his native Russia. He became influential in the movement that became known as the Leningrad School, founded the first publishing house for children's literature and the first children's theatre and children's magazines The Hedgehog and The Finch.
Samuil Marshak Books listed on the website include:
The Circus (1971) – later incorporated into The Circus and Other Stories (2013), Good Manners and Pussies Mustn’t Fight (1974), Babies at the Zoo (1975), Mr Twister (1975), The Tale of a Hero Nobody Know (1981), The Month-Brothers: A Slavic Tale (1983), Baggage (2013) – first published in English as The Pup Grew Up! (1989) and The Absentminded Fellow (1999).