Review by Ekaterina Shatalova
The Children of the Sky («Дети неба») by Irina Kraeva, illustrations by Anya Leonova
Published by Beringa, 2018
Recommended age: 12+
“We are not alone. We draw in those who are close. And even those who are far away. We are all together in this. Sometimes we can’t even imagine the connection to the person that we seem to know nothing about.”
“Мы не поодиночке. Мы вбираем в себя тех, кто рядом. И даже тех, кто далеко. Мы – все вместе. И порой даже представить не можем, какая у нас связь с человеком, про которого мы, может быть, ничего и не знаем.”
Schoolboy Max is given a simple holiday assignment – to write about his family. But what can one write if their family is a bit… weird? They don’t even have pets! Only a herd of buffaloes which live inside Mum. That’s how Max calls her fits of anger that last exactly 32 minutes, after which Mum is normal again. Max is ‘lucky’ to use his own words to be born-deaf as he can always take out his hearing aid and not listen to all this.
And there is also Anya, his freakishly tall elder sister, who always gets into trouble. And her father Boris who comes and goes but is never around when he is needed. And all Max can think about is where is his own father, who is he? And what if those buffaloes will eventually get into Anya and him?
Trying to navigate through his life and find answers to difficult questions, Max finds support from his schoolteacher Ninpalna, a philosophy aficionado, who tells him about one crazy philosopher who was dreaming of resurrecting all people who ever lived and of universal love. She helps Max realise that adults are not always strong and wise, and that love and understanding is the key to everything.
This is the first and the longest story in this collection united by one theme – the search for understating between generations. Written in a masterful language full of humour, it speaks to all ages, while original bi-colour illustrations by Anya Leonova create the perfect mood.
About the author
Irina Kraeva (b. 1966), is a journalist, editor, and educator, winner of the Krapivin International Children’s Literature Award, as well as other numerous awards. Some of Kraeva’s works have been translated into Spanish, Polish and French, but sadly not English.