Russian kid lit in translation

There have been fewer children’s and teen books translated into English from Russian than you might imagine. Here’s what we’ve been able to find so far, published since 1991: fiction and non-fiction in translation from Russian authors and illustrators. We’ll list Soviet translations in a separate post, coming soon. Many thanks to the charity Outside in World for their help with this research.

We would love to hear of any we’ve missed: please email us about any Russian-language kid lit you know of in English translation, whether still in print or not, and especially forthcoming publications! russian.kid.lit


THE RETURN, written and illustrated by Natalia Chernysheva (Groundwood, 2019) Ages 4-7

As comforting as a home-cooked meal” ~ Kirkus Reviews

THE REAL BOAT, by Marina Aromshtam, illustrated by Victoria Semykina, translated by Olga Varshaver (Templar, 2019) Ages 5-8

Shortlisted for the 2018 Klaus Flugge Prize (awarded for the most promising and exciting newcomer to children’s picture book illustration)

SHADOW, by Lucy Christopher, illustrated by Anastasia Suvorova, not translated ~ originally published in English (Lantana, 2019) Ages 5–8

“Helpful to any family going through a challenging situation yet hoping for a brighter future” ~ Youth Services Book Reviews, 5 STARS

BAGGAGE, by Samuil Marshak, illustrated by Vladimir Lebedev, translated by Jamey Gambrell (Tate Publishing, 2013)

New English edition of a classic work of Russian children’s literature, first published in the Soviet Union in 1926. Not just for children, this is an essential for all lovers of twentieth century avant-garde Russian art.

ALPHABETAUM by Chris Raschka and Vladimir Radunsky, illustrated with Radunsky’s collection of anonymous old photographs, poems in English by Chris Rashka (NYRB Children’s Collection, 2014)

“Raschka and Radunsky have collaborated to create an ingenious alphabet book with a hook: it’s illustrated with antique photos of children from around the world…” ~ Booklist

THE LAND OF STONE FLOWERS: A Fairy Guide to the Mythical Human Being, by Sveta Dorosheva, translated by Jane Bugaeva (Chronicle Books, USA, 2018)

The Land of Stone Flowers draws readers into a world of fantasy and fable that slyly reveals many hidden truths about our human existence.

AN EDWARD LEAR ALPHABET, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky (HarperCollins Childrens Books, 1999)

TELEPHONE by Kornei Chukovsky, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky, translated by Jamey Gambrell (NorthSouth, 1996)

MISHMASH by Korney Chukovsky (Author), Francesca Yarbusova (Rovakada, 2011) Original title: Путаница


IN THE WOLF’S LAIR (BEASTLY CRIMES #1) by Anna Starobinets, illustrated by Marie Muravski, translated by Jane Bugaeva (Dover Press, 2018)

The first in this imaginative whodunnit series set in the Far Woods.

A PREDATOR’S RIGHTS (BEASTLY CRIMES #2) by Anna Starobinets, illustrated by Marie Muravski, translated by Jane Bugaeva (Dover Press, 2019)

The perfect read for young detectives … and all who oppose fowl play.

CLAWS OF RAGE (BEASTLY CRIMES #3) by Anna Starobinets, illustrated by Marie Muravski, translated by Jane Bugaeva (Dover Press, 2019)

The peaceful existence of the animals in the Far Woods is threatened by a crime wave… Can Chief Badger and Badgercat round up Claws of Rage members before they strike again? 

THE PLUCKER (BEASTLY CRIMES #4) by Anna Starobinets, illustrated by Marie Muravski, translated by Jane Bugaeva (Dover Press, 2019)

“A clever whodunit featuring believable animal characters in a convincing, recognizable society. A few full-color illustrations from Muravski add to the appeal. Mystery fans (around the world) should rejoice.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

CATLANTIS by Anna Starobinets, illustrated by Andrzej Klimowski, translated by Jane Bugaeva (Pushkin Press, UK, 2015/ NYRB Children’s Collection, USA, 2016)

The adventures of Baguette the house cat, who is faced with a Herculean task: to travel back through the Ocean of Time to the lost island of Catlantis to save the nine lives of all cats before it is too late. Only then can he hope to win the paw of his beloved, Purriana…

TEEN / YA (13+)

THE RAVEN’S CHILDREN by Yulia Yakovleva, translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp (Puffin, 2018)

“Commended by BookTrust’s In Other Words initiative for translation into English, this is a remarkable portrait of Russia under Stalin’s Terror.” Children’s Book of the Week, The Sunday Times

PLAYING A PART, by Daria Wilke, translated by Marian Schwartz (Arthur A. Levine Books, USA, 2015)

The boys in Grisha’s class bully him mercilessly, and his own grandfather says hateful things about how he’s not “masculine” enough. A moving and hopeful story of how a teenager overcomes the trials of homophobia to write himself a new role in his own story.


None that we’ve found yet…


THE FIRE HORSE: Children’s Poems by Vladimir Mayakovsky, Osip Mandelstam and Daniil Kharms, translated by Eugene Ostashevsky (NYRB Children’s Collection, USA, 2017)

“The original illustrations, particularly by Lidia Popova to Mayakovsky and Boris Ender to Mandelstam, are richly rewarding, and the book will delight adult readers who don’t know Russian, as well as the three-to-nine year olds at whom the publishers direct it.” —Catriona Kelly, TLS

SHEEP DON’T GO TO SCHOOL, edited by Andrew Fusek Peters, poems by various authors including traditional anonymous, various translators, illustrated by Marketa Prachaticka (Bloodaxe, UK, 1997)

“A wonderful collection of poems from eastern Europe, representing nearly two dozen countries, and spanning cultures and generations, many translated into English for the first time.” Outside in World 


THE APARTMENT: A CENTURY OF RUSSIAN HISTORY by Alexandra Litvina, illustrated by Anna Desnitskaya, translated by Antonina W. Bouis (Harry N. Abrams, 2019)

“Striking view into Russian history. . . This illustrated ‘living museum’ allows readers to glimpse ordinary lives through some not-so-ordinary times.” ~ Publishers Weekly

HOW DOES A LIGHTHOUSE WORK? by Roman Belyaev, translated by Masha Kulikova (b small publishing)

“This a terrific book to share with inquisitive children and the combination of stunning illustrations and interesting text makes this a well worthwhile read both at home and to use in the classroom” ~ LoveReading4Kids


Have we missed any children’s/YA books by Russian authors translated into English? Please email us at russian.kid.lit @ and let us know!

Published by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Literary translator from Arabic, German and Russian into English

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