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Old Peter's Russian Tales

Arthur Ransome

Book Overview: 

Arthur Ransome is best known for his ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series of children’s books. These stories are all from Russian folklore, some comparatively well-known, others less so. Ransome spent some years in Russia as a newspaper correspondent fir the ‘Daily News’ and the ‘Manchester Guardian’ and was peripherally involved in the revolution. In the late twenties he married Evgenia Shvelpina, Trotsky’s secretary, retired from newspapers and started writing his children’s books.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .She ran to meet him, and shouted out,—

"Where are the little ones?"

"In the sledge."

She snatched off the blankets and pulled aside the rushes, and found the bodies of her two cross daughters.

Instantly she flew at the old man in a storm of rage. "What have you done to my children, my little red cherries, my little pigeons? I will kill you with the oven fork! I will break your head with the poker!"

The old man listened till she was out of breath and could not say another word. That, my dears, is the only wise thing to do when a woman is in a scolding rage. And as soon as she had no breath left with which to answer him, he said,—

"My little daughter got riches for soft words, but yours were always [68] rough of the tongue. And it's not my fault, anyhow, for you yourself sent them into the forest."

Well, at last the old woman got her breath again, and scolded away till she was tired out. But in t. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Reason for Reading: read aloud to the 9yo, a story a day, every other week.

Comments: One of the wonderful aspects about this collection of Russian folk tales is that they are centred around Old Peter who looks after his grandchildren, a boy and a girl, because their parents are dead. Old Peter is...more

A couple of these were creepy-cool, but it's starting to feel like fairy tales are pretty much all the same no matter where you go. Women are assholes, men are emasculated by their asshole women, someone recommends you give her a good beating be she daughter, step-daughter, or wife, there's occas...more

Now one of my very favorite fairytale collections. I love how the stories are framed by Old Peter's relationship with his grandchildren, whom he cares for as his own children since their parents are dead. Every night he returns to their hut and this is the sweet scenario that plays out:

"You are s...more

A childhood favourite. Still got my rather threadbare copy and still enjoy reading it.

This is an entertaining mix of old fairytales - some myths, some fables, but most just stories set in traditional Russia. It would be very interesting to see Russian versions of these and compare them to Arthur Ransome's edition/translation - just how far has he Anglicised it all? How much of the...more

Brilliant collection of Russian fairytales! Loved it! ( Note for parents/teachers - just be aware that a stepmother calls her stepdaughter a hussy and a whore in one story...your child may need an explanation!)

I love Russian folktales and these are nicely retold by Arthur Ransome. I enjoyed the way he connected all of the stories by having a grandfather relate them to his grandchildren. I need to read about Arthur Ransome's Russian period, apparently he was suspected of being a spy and married Trotsky'...more

Bettie's Books

A collection of fairy tales from Russian, rewritten for English children. . . .

You can tell the rewritting not only because it's done up in a frame story of Old Peter telling his two grandchildren, but because of literary effects in some of them. Still some interesting tales, variants on familiar...more

More than merely a collection of short stories, this book sets the mood through using the character of a grandfather (Old Peter) telling tales to his two grandchildren. In between tales, we glimpse a bit of everyday family life through events and conversations in their hut in the forest.

As for t...more

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