Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Children's Book Picasso Might Have Liked?

Maybe.  In a round-about-way.  If you read my last post, I ended it by mentioning a book, Nina's Treasures, illustrated by Stefan Czerneki. Noted at the end of the book is this interesting tidbit: "Many of the colors and patterns in this book are adapted from the work of Maria Primachenko, a peasant woman from Kiev whose brilliant folk art was praised by Pablo Picasso."

This comment led me to do some further investigation about Maria's artwork, and to show you more of Czerneki's artwork from Nina's Treasures.  But first the folkart of Maria Primachenko...
"Dumplings on the Shelf", Maria Primachenko [1979] - source
Maria Primachenko (born 1908) was a peasant woman from the Kievan village of Bolotnya. She spent all her life there, taken ill with polio as a child.  This painful disease very much influenced her life. By reports of her relatives, Maria grew into а thoughtful and considerate person, having compassion for nature and every living thing.

Her interest in art began, by her own words, like this: "Once, as a young girl, I was tending a gaggle of geese. When I got with them to a sandy beach, on the bank of the river, after crossing a field dotted with wild flowers, I began to draw real and imaginary flowers with a stick on the sand… Later, I decided to paint the walls of my house using natural pigments. After that I’ve never stopped drawing and painting."
"At the Well", Maria Primachenko [1969] - source
Indeed, her unique art shows a successful blend of natural talent, an overwhelming desire to create beauty and a sensitive perception of reality. The complex world of her images springs both from her own imagination and from the entire system and content of Ukrainian folk poetry.
"Green Elephant", Maria Primachenko [1936] - source
Though Primachenko never studied art, her pictorial flair for bringing to life ideas, feelings and impressions gradually ripened into true mastery. Exhibitions of her works have proved tremendously popular in Moscow, Poland, Bulgaria, France and Canada. (source for bio information here.)
"Fairy Bird - Peacock", Maria Primachenko [1936] - source
Picasso once said after visiting a Primachenko exhibition in Paris, "I bow down before the artistic miracle of this brilliant Ukrainian."  

Which brings me back to the book that I highlighted yesterday (with the note about Picasso at the end).  The illustrator, Stefan Czernecki, was very influenced by Maria Primachenko (as you will see!)...

Stefan Czernecki was born in Germany, but is of Ukrainian descent.  He co-authored Nina's Treasures with Timothy Rhodes.
All summer long Katerina tended her flowers...She gathered the seeds from the flowers and put them in the cupboard, where they would be safe until spring planting.
Katerina hung her warm feather comforter out to air.  The next morning it began to snow. Winter had come.
The oven glowed all evening, and at midnight she delivered a big basket of baked goods to the neighbors.
The winter was longer and colder than any that Katerina could remember...Finally Katerina had little food for herself and none for Nina...then she remembered.  She reached into the cupboard and pulled out a large sack...soon Nina was fat again, but she still did not lay eggs.

In the village it was time to celebrate the spring festival...Katerina could not go, for she had nothing to take - no food and no flowers...the next morning Katerina was awakened by Nina's cackling and clucking...
There in the nest were the most beautiful eggs...
Today, before each spring festival, the grandmothers in Zelena work late into the night turning the most ordinary eggs into the most extraordinary treasures.

I'm leaving the Ukraine and heading into Russia with my next few posts...see you there!


  1. Sigh. I really really need this book. It is gorgeous! I think my husband might kill me if I buy one more though ;) we're packing up and after boxes and boxes, we still dont have our book shelves packed up. We're hit 'disaster zone' around here. That's why Im hiding out on the internet, haha! Ok, back to packing...but I'm going to 'wish list' this book...

    1. I hope you can get it - it's a sweet story! :) And the folkart is right up your alley!