And just so that you don’t think Russian children’s books are all sunshine and rainbows, here’s an illustrated version of the French tale Bluebeard from the Soviet era. For all the full images, click here.
We often talk of how Disney films teach children outmoded lessons about gender – both boys and girls receive terrible lessons about how to construct their identity. Cinderella, for instance, teaches us that “if you’re beautiful enough, you may be able to escape your terrible living conditions by getting a wealthy man to fall for you.” The Little Mermaid says, “it’s okay to abandon your family, drastically change your body, and give up your strongest talent in order to get your man. Once he sees your pretty face, only a witch’s spell could draw his eyes away from you.”
Perhaps it’s good to have a children’s book that tells the story of misogyny straight-up, without wrapping it up with singing animal sidekicks and happy marriages. Beautiful illustrations, creepy tale.