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I See the Sun in Russia Paperback – Illustrated, March 15, 2012
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When talented violinist, Anton, wakes on a snowy morning in St. Petersburg, he embarks on a day that likely seems unimaginable to young American readers. From the darkness that lingers through the morning to the stray cats who congregate around the radiators in Anton's apartment building to the tempting candies that are far beyond his family's financial reach, the world differs significantly from what we would call ordinary. But amidst the cold, the snow, the darkness, and the struggle, Anton radiates contentment with the good food served in the school cafeteria, the satisfaction of performing with a group of violinists, the fun of playing soccer with a friend. The pleasures and difficulties Anton experiences are, in the end, not so foreign after all. This recognition is the point of the beautifully illustrated I See the Sun series, of which this volume is the fourth. Daily life looks different in Russia--just as it does in Nepal or China or even in the house next door. But beneath the differences that are tied to culture and geography are values common to people around the world--love of family, pursuit of success, pleasure in nourishment. -- Margo Orlando Littell, San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review
From the Inside Flap
Through the eyes of a child, I See the Sun in Russia is the story of a day in the life of Anton, a young boy growing up in St. Petersburg, Russia. Anton loves to play the violin and he and his family hope that one day he will play in an orchestra. On this day his class takes a field trip to the Hermitage Palace, but there's still time for violin lessons and playing soccer in the hall of his apartment building before supper. A country overview and glossary is included for parents and teachers who want to go beyond the story and talk more about Russia and why it is important. In English and Russian. For ages 5 and up. This is the fourth book in the I See the Sun series.
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The biggest problem is that, although the English text is printed, the Russian text is handwritten, with cursive style letters, for some strange reason. I don't know whether the authors thought this made it cute, or more homemade/homey, or what, but the result is that it is nearly impossible for even a 7 year old Russian-speaking child to read, even if that child can read most Russian texts.
Also, I wasn't sure why they decided to have it be the case that the family is not able to afford sweets. The goal of this series is ostensibly to help children learn about and appreciate other cultures, but I would think this would be more likely to make kids feel uncomfortable, and draw attention to disparate economic conditions.
If the series were reprinted with standard, printed Russian text, and without the allusion to not being able to afford sweets, I would buy it.