Moving the junior collection has given us a chance to get reacquainted with a wonderful collection that most of us staffers don't work with very frequently. Thanks to the rarity of weeding and deaccession, we've got hundreds of books that are now more interesting as portraits of their times than for their ostensible subjects. One such book, from your loyal blogger's own childhood: 's A Family in the U.S.S.R.!
The Partridgeovich Family Band.
Depressing as a Lemony Snicket novel- I suppose a little worse, being (mostly) nonfiction- it follows the Fomin family around Tetris-era Leningrad. We get to see Nikita's art studio (he's not allowed to sell his paintings, but he's "happy and secure" on the state-minimum rouble monthly salary); family fun-time ("Nikita and Irina have no special interests apart from their work"); dinner (ham and green beans = once-a-year extravagance).
Chess, babushkas, rye bread, and vodka all make predictable appearances. There's even a picture hip-young girlchik buried balalaika-deep in a pair of poorly-cut Eastern-bloc blue jeans: lumpenproletariat indeed!
Like hundreds of our other children's books, this one has a happy ending, even if it just took a few years after the books' publication to be written. Now that the Junior reading is even closer to the rest of the collection, we hope you'll check some out soon!