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A sad piece of news came from Russia — Eduard Uspensky (Эдуа́рд Успе́нский), a children’s literature author and the creator of Cheburashka (Чебура́шка) died aged 80. Many of his stories were made into cartoons that many speakers of Russian (not only in Russia!) grew up on. In addition, he wrote the screenplays to many cartoons. To remember Uspensky, let us look at three of the cartoons he helped create.
Cheburashka cartoons tell the story of a mysterious but cuddly creature named Cheburashka (Чебура́шка), also known as Topple in some early translations, who was found in a crate of oranges. Cheburashka does not fit in anywhere and is eventually “adopted” by the lonely zoo crocodile named Gena (крокоди́л Ге́на). I’ve even read an article suggesting that Cheburashka’s “otherness” represented the experience of Soviet Jews.
Another famous series of cartoons based on Uspensky’s stories describes the adventures of a young boy named Uncle Fyodor (дя́дя Фёдор) in a village (дере́вня) called Prostokvashino (Простоква́шино). When his parents refuse to let him keep a stray cat as a pet, he leaves to go to the family’s country house with the cat, and all sorts of adventures ensue.
A lesser known but fun cartoon is Осьмино́жки (Octopuses). It tells the story of a family of octopuses (осьмино́ги) where the clueless dad can’t really handle his mischievous children.
I hope this glimpse into Uspensky’s oeuvre was informative and encourages you to learn more about him.
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