Articles

Canonization processes in the development of children’s literature in Ukraine in the XX-XXI century

Uliana Baran,
Candidate of Philological Sciences (PhD.), Associate professor,
President of Ukrainian Research
Center of Children and Youth Literature
Lviv, Ukraine

The Soviet's times came into the history of Ukrainian children's literature "as the period of long-lasting ideological dependence, political engagement with its critical manifestations of disgustingly-social explaining phenomenon in literature in 1930s referring to the communism idea. And at the same time like the period of forming the "cult of soviets childhood", creating the numerous of structures, called to carry on only the problems of the childhood and on the extensive system of children's, later of young-adult literature, that special in the second half of the century was enriched by highly literacy achievements"(1).

The Ukrainian children's literary reviewer Emilia Ohar for example provides data after Olexander Ivanchenko observation from one of the most popular publishing houses in Ukraine: every year the publishing-house "Veselka" (Kyiv) produced near 240-250 books titles in over 40 millions editions. Here were translated the works from 49 languages of the nations, that were part of Soviet Union and also from 42 languages from other foreign folks. The books from "Veselka" were exported into 128 countries of the world, were represented on the most prestige book fairs in Moskau, Frankfurt-am Main, Chicago, or soviets requirements also the highly qualified editions of fairy-tales, literacy fantasy works, "School library", "First books for kindergarten" and others.(2)

An interesting fact is that the official ideological trend in the culture and in literature, special in the children's literature for these times in Ukraine and whole Soviet Union was like in America and EU after the Second World War the internationalization abasing the cultural borders between nations, with one small difference: while the Soviets tried to create the "cult of soviet childhood", the other part of the world was trying to create an another utopian model - "world children's republic". Emer O'Sullivan explains the internationalization as the trade method for developing the media-industry that abased borders between American and European world(3), even if there were still good works written for every special nation and where translated and related adapted for the foreign reading audience what surely influenced the changes in the cultural identities and the further development of children's literature and its canons. To these times we can speak of two most influenced "international" groups, where the children's literatures were reintegrated "western region with the exchange between English, German, French, Netherland and Scandinavian languages and one eastern with the Slovenian (special Russian)- Hungarian-German (DDR) exchange" (Klingberg)(4).


The Ukrainian literary researcher Raya Movchan in one of her articles "Literature for children and youth in the system of Ukrainian literature history in XX century"(5) writes, that only in the 1920th we got the translations in Ukrainian language of Rudyard Kipling, Mark Tven, Karel Hloucha, Ernest Thompson Seton, Jules Gabriel Verne, printed in Lviv publishing-house "The world of the child ", what actually due to the historical facts was abroad of Ukraine, soviet Ukraine. The Ukrainian translations of Andersens and Brothers Grimms fary-tales reached the Ukraininan children only in the second half of 1930th. Obviously, the possibility to read the prominent works of the world literature were possible more only in the Russian translations, due to the kommunism idea of uniting all of the different nations with different langueges with only one international languege - Russian, trying to negishiate the existing of all other langueges, especially Ukrainian.

In spite of the conserved well known thought whole the world today soviet ideology and mostly political character of the children's literature in the XXth century, we can follow the most representative Ukrainian children's writers from the end of XIX till the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, who reached a high quality of literary writing to the children, abandoning the ideological propaganda.

The Ukrainians Romanists and realists L. Hlibov, Marko Vovchok, Yurij Fedjkovych, I. Nechuj-Levyzjkyj, Olena Pchilka, Ivan Franko, B. Hrinchenko, Marija Zahirna and later also the early modernists like M. Kozjubynskyj, Lesja Ukrajinka, V. Vynnychenko, O. Olesj, M. Voronyj, S. Cherkasenko - the first adult writers that started to write the texts extra for children since the second half of XIXth century. They tendency wrote children's literature due to the realistic tradition, that was characterized trough the folk pragmatism, didactic and realistic description. In that context we can name for example the "Jalynka", "Charytja", "Malenjkyj hrishnyk" by M. Kozjubynskyj, or novels by B. Hrinchenko, or "Malenjkyj Horbanj" by S. Cherkasenko and others.

At the end of XIXth and in the beginning of XXth century we can follow the next important tendency in the developing of children's literature history in Ukraine especially in the works of W. Wynnychenko (cycles "Namysto", "Kumedija z Kostem", "Fedjko-Chalamydnyk", "Babusyn podarunok") or Ivan Franko (fairy-tales "Koly she zviri hovoryly" (tr.: When the animals were talking yet), and world-wide known poem "Lys Mykyta"(6) where we can find the breaking of stereotypes, searching after fresh themes and characters.

In comparison to other writers of those times, Ivan Franko was and still is a really great writer of Ukraine for adults and children too. He was the first one, who started to adapt to the real consume-understanding of social and cultural receptive possibilities of the Ukrainian children the all heard, spoken and written fairy-tales from all over the world (he points in his edition for mixing and new-retelling the contents not only from native Ukrainian folklore but also from the "Narodnyje russkije skazki" by Alexander Afanasjev, "Sagen und Märchen der Südslawen" by Friedrich Kraus, "Kinder- und Hausmärchen" by Brüder Grimm, "Griechische und albanesische Märchen" by Ioan Georg von Hann, Teodor Benfejer "Pantschatantra. Fünf Bücher indischer Fabeln, Märchen und Erzählungen" und Ludwig Fritze "Pantschantra", ein altes indisches Lehrbuch der Lebensklugheit in Erzählungen und Sprüchen", persisches Buch "Tuhfat ikwam ussafa" in French translation by Harns de Tassi "Les animaux en discussion avec I'homme" and other)(7). He comments it to his collection: "For whose want to know where I got my fairy-tales I tell you where, but every fairy-tale I rewrote fundamentally, adapting it to the taste, understanding and surroundings of our children, our folk"(8). It made him to the international classic and still canonic children's writer of Ukraine. His collection "Koly she zviri hovoryly" were published in English translations in the magazine "The Ukrainian Canadian" in 1947-1983 and reached also an English-German young reader thanks the Ukrainians Diaspora. Having had a very good reputation as literate, being the star of Ukrainian bohemia of this times we define Ivan Franko to be the first Ukrainian writer who managed to bring the Ukrainian children's literature up from the underground but not only as the contribution to the pedagogical "school canon"(9) but previously as a communications possibility for protecting the human rights of the children(10) into the international children's literature canon due to the high quality of his literacy like for example the brothers Grimm made it in Germany. Like they he made the fairy-tales even acceptable and more realistic for the current children. Now are his retellings refreshed in different modern editions. So, for example, very talented young Ukrainian illustrators Romana Romanyshyn and Andrij Lesiv, whose picturebook for the children of the age 3+ after text "Ripka" written by Ivan Franko in 1891 was awarded and included to the Selection of International Children's and Youth Literature "The White Ravens 2013".

In the 20th of XX century after the Ukrainian prominent writers for children like Ivan Franko, Mychajlo Kozjubynsjkyj, Lesja Ukrainka, Marko Cheremshyna died, the controversy reality influenced the two-ways development of the literature: the literature of Ukrainian emigrants who didn't accept the soviet ideology (still are very popular and represented due to the new "school canon" today V. Vynnychenko, S. Cherkasenko, O. Olesj, B. Lepkyj) and the literature of the writers who staid and had to work in the communism-realities, writing even for the small children sometimes the works that at all are not understandable for them but EVERYONE had to know them by heard(11). The main aims of all soviets poems and novels between 20th and till the 60th were the proclamation of Lenin's ideology and the prospering of great and happy Soviets land, happy soviets children, even if there were not happy at all and mostly lived (especially homelessness) in the hardest and undergrounded circumstances of these times. So in the works of the land Ukrainians children's writers we can talk about only one ideological soviet propaganda way in the children's literature. The main topics were patriotism, social humanism, preference the social upon the individual, folk's friendship, love to the work and so on. The works were tendency realistic due to the extending ideological norms. We talk about the conjuncture of children's literature, where the esthetic value was not the main. In priority were the ideological stamps, false pathos and falsification of the reality. To the best of this period today we can name novels by N.Zabila, O. Ivanenko, V. Cherednychenko and versus for children written by P. Tychyna, M. Rylsjkyj, V. Sosjura and others.

But following the another way of creating the Ukrainian children's literature in Exile of these times that is actually recognized and accepted to the modern "school canon" today, we can see the different paradigm representing the other point of view at the Ukrainian child and its reality. On the example of the Volodymyr Vynnychenko novels for children in the collection "Namysto"(12), the Ukrainian child is putten into the dynamic, adventures and communicative suet of social and psychological real troubles and conflicts, generation conflicts, lasting after the beauties of Ukrainian nature. His novels are deeply psychological works with the backgrounds of real Ukrainian socialites, addressed to both - children (the texts are written in the suitable understandable language in the related short laconic sentences, viewing full understanding of the real problems meeting the children in the frames of the adult didactic and very hard life of these times) and adults to show them how far do the children's heart and nature at all needs previously the love and attention of their parents. But on the other hand, talking in the words of Maria Nikolajeva, we can describe these children's literature, "not as literature addressed to children, but as a sort of storytelling therapy for frustrated adults"(13) that had left their lovely homes, their gardens, their parents, their good friends, flowing away from the soviet regime and missing the motherland during the whole life, hoping to come back and mostly with never succeeded hopes.

These trends in the Ukrainian children's literature after long break during the "occupation of soviets ideology" are establishing next first only in 60th while "Khrushchev thaw" again, when the situation in the Soviets had a little bit changed and Ukraine got such an interesting and representative children's writers like V. Nestajko, V. Blyznezj, Je. Huzalo, V. Symoneko, M. Vingranovskyj, Lina Kostenko, D. Pavlychko, Hr. Tjuttjunnyk, V. Shevchuk, Ja. Stelmach and others. In their works for children we can find the children's soul, the feeling and psychological understanding for the uniqueness of childhood and adolescence. In style and genre the children's literature grows like the adults one. But in the children's literature we can follow coming back from the communism depressed in pathos realism to the children's fiction that "has maintained a myth of a happy and innocent childhood, apparently fuelled by writers' nostalgic memories and bitter insights into the impossibility of returning to the childhood idyll"(14) . And it is really true that this concept of a happy childhood in Ukraine at the end of the XXth century wasn't reflected the real very black and undergrounding circumstances in what the soviets children were growing up. But that tendency seems to be still very actually in the Ukrainian children's literature even nowadays.

If we look now at the developing of children's literature for example in Germany in the same times, I can suppose that the all movements and changes in the concept of writing for children were made by the adult writers who wished to make something like the self-therapy, being frustrated since childhood by some family' and social traumata, special the second-world-war-children. In controversies to the Ukrainian children's writers (I am talking now about the same generations of writers, both German and Ukrainians after the Second World War), who started to write the funny and lovely stories to make the children happy even if the life was not so, trying to "rewrite" the mistakes from the childhood, showing the better possibilities to stay happy in life despite of all social and generation troubles, to bring them to find the good way in the future and to create the strong character by themselfes, German writers started to put out all psychological dangerous options from their childhood to show the most popular generations (bad parents - good children) and a little bit social and cultural conflicts, proclaiming the emancipation of children and mostly leaving the parents' motivations of behavior out of the texts and also leaving the real current children/reader without an answer and a little hope of "happy" childhood and happy further relations with the parents and other social life. The child like in the Ukrainian literature of this period was alone. With a difference: alone happy (Ukrainian way) or alone frustrated (European way). I am not sure also that the personal frustration is something what is really worth to widen very much. Maybe most of children till that times were actually were happy and did not see the problems that announced and popularized the children's literature since the 70th of XX century. Maybe most of them had good relations to their parents, were loved and supported before the time of real emancipation came and everyone reached now the loudness. Maybe therefore were first the problems from a small part of the people that widened their personal troubles and troubles became popular. Who knows...? Therefore they made good thing, bringing into the children's literature many different topics and genres and making the children's literature to the important field for investigation not only in the pedagogical, but also in general multidisciplinary context. It was really the time of "growing up" of children's literature.

But therefore we had got the widening of the repertoire in children's literature proposition in the topics, genres, styles. Ukraine gets the new literary fairy-tales, adventures, school stories and domestic stories and others. They all are now actually a part of modern "school canon" in the pedagogical educational system in Ukraine.

The most prominent Ukrainian children's writer since those times has been still Vsevolod Nestajko, who explains his wish to write only for the children in just very easy way: "I became the children's writer. Why for children? - Because I wished to be back into the childhood - but different childhood than I had: Funny, full of adventures, games, entertainments. Therefore are my fairy-tales and adventures novels"(15). His most popular trilogy "Toreadory z Vasjukivky"(16) was the first modern Ukrainian adventure story and has still being been awarded by the millions of young readers. The work represents the world of children like ideal, happy and full of everyday adventures despite of the grey, borrowing reality of their factual real soviets life of the last century. It exactly that what Maria Nicolajeva propose to understand as "a symbolic depiction of a maturation process (initiation, rite of passage), so that it is not a strictly mimetic reflection of some concrete "reality". The scope of text written and marketed for children and young people will therefore reflect a precise phase on a childhood-to-adulthood continuum, whose ethos ranges from a primal harmony (Arcadia, Paradise, Utopia, idyll), through different degrees of departure from it, and onwards into some mission that may either succeed or fail"(17). So, Vsevolod Nestajko succeeded to create the "primal harmony" of the virtual "idyll" of childhood that the children of Ukraine actually needed and still need. The author was blamed in the "anti-pedagogic" influence on the soviets children(18) by the communism authorities in the last century but after the Proclamation of the Independence of Ukraine in 1991, from the very beginnings of the XXI century he became the classic of children's literature. His trilogy has been adapted by the author due to the new social realities of the Ukrainian children in the multicultural world nowadays and was reedited by the first Ukrainian private and the world-wide known publish-house "ABABAHALAMAHA". The trilogy is a big novel (461p.) with different integrated genres like epistolary genre (written letters, notices), songs that reflect the Ukrainian history, legends that help the reader to understand the folks' original mentality and religious' out-comings. Observation of that text due to the Canon-theory in children's literature of German prominent investigator Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer(19), Vsevolod Nestajko, being classic, creates today actually the modern active canon of Ukrainian children's literature: internationality, mix of genres and developing and widening of traditional canon - are all three aspects of the "processed canon"(20). The trilogy "Toreadory z Vasjukivky" is a poli-functional, rich in semantic and emotions communicative fiction for the children of the age 10+. For his work the author was many times awarded by different national and international prizes and really is worth to take together with the Ivan Franko place in the world' international lexicons of children's literature classics.

If we try to compare now the historical development of children's literature in Ukraine and in Western Europe, it is obviously that the children's literature in Western Europe has an old tradition, where from very beginnings of the XIX century were established the story-telling trends of brothers Grimm, Andersen, Hauff. That reached Ukraine in new translations together with other prominent world's classics in children's literature (with the little exception from XX century) but mostly full only since 1991. And like the process in all educational systems in the other countries, they took their important place in the field of school canonical literature together with general classics, whose works with the time were adopted for the young readers with the aim to mediate the feeling for beauty and literary aesthetic.

Thanks the rising of books-exchange started in the young country almost 50 years later than in Europe and America, adaptations of the translations from the children's books from all over the world to the understanding possibilities of Ukrainian children in their mental, psychological, social perceptional context, Ukraine has got now very new, intelligent and acknowledged protagonist and reader that in the intervarsity media world today is a very strong personality, free from every ideology but with a big tolerance and integrations-abilities in the modern multicultural universe.


[1] Огар Е. Контраверсійність радянського дискурсу // Огар. Е. Дитяча книга в українському соціумі (досвід перехідної доби) : монографія. - Львів: Світ, 2012. - С.38 - 55.

[2] Іванченко О. Видавництво "Веселка" : особливості функціонування й розвитку (1934 - 2010 рр.) автореф. дис.. ... канд. наук із соц. комунікацій : 27.00.05 / О. Іванченко; Київ. нац. ун-т ім. Т. Шевченка, Ін-т журналістики. - К., 2011. - 16 с.

[3] O'Sullivan E.: Kinderliterarische Komparatistik / O'Sullivan, Emer, - Heidelberg: Winter, 2000. - S.15.

[4] Nach Klingberg findet der Austausch zwischen Kinderliteraturen vornehmlich innerhalb von Gruppen von Ländern statt.

Grob unterteilt Klingberg Europa in eine "westliche Region mit einem Austausch zwischen dem Englischen, Deutschen, Französischen, Niederländischen und skandinavischen Sprachen und eine östliche mit einem slawisch (besonders russisch)-ungarisch-deutschen (die DDR) Austausch.
E. O'Sullivan after Klingberg: Emer O Sullivan. Statusrelevante Funktionen von Kinderliteratur // O'Sullivan, Emer: Kinderliterarische Komparatistik / O'Sullivan, Emer, - Heidelberg: Winter, 2000. - S. 159.

[5] Мовчан Р. Література для дітей та юнацтва в системі історії української літератури ХХ століття // Література. Діти. Час: Вісник Центру дослідження літератури для дітей та юнацтва. Вип. 1. - Тернопіль: Навчальна книга - Богдан, 2011. - с.12-17.

[6] Franko, Ivan (Jakovlevic). Lys Mykita // Kümmerling-Meibauer, Bettina: Klassiker der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur : ein internationales Lexikon / Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer. – Stuttgart ; Weimar : Metzler. – Bd.1. – 1999. –  S. 365 –367.

[7] Сабат Г. Іван Франко і дитяча література: Теоретичні проблеми функціонування та рецепції казок про тварин // Література. Діти. Час: Вісник Центру дослідження літератури для дітей та юнацтва. Вип. 4. – Рівне : Дятлик М., 2013. – С.133.

[8] Франко І. Коли ще звірі говорили. Казки для дітей // Франко І. Зібр. Творів : У 50-ти томах. – К. : Наукова думка, 1979. – Т. 20. – С.75.

[9] Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer. Integration und Ausgrenzung: Wandel in der Bewertung von Kinderliteratur // Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer. Kinderlitaratur, Kanonbildung und literarische Wertung, Stuttgart, 2003. – S. 271.

[10] Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer. Integration und Ausgrenzung: Wandel in der Bewertung von Kinderliteratur // Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer. Kinderlitaratur, Kanonbildung und literarische Wertung, Stuttgart, 2003. – S. 271.

[11] Варданян М. Коцепція адресата збірки оповідань В. Винниченка «Намисто» у контексті літератури для дітей і юнацтва» 20-х рр. ХХ ст. // Література. Діти. Час: Вісник Центру дослідження літератури для дітей та юнацтва. Вип. 4. – Рівне : Дятлик М., 2013. – 308 с.

[12] Винниченко В. Намисто: оповідання [ текст ] / В. К. Винниченко / упоряд. Й. Й. Брояк. – К.: Веселка, 1989. –  380 с.

[13] Nikolajeva M. Growing up. The dilemma of children’s literature // Childrens literature as communication: the ChiLPA Project / edited by Roger D. Sell. – Volume 2. – Amsterdam ; Philadelphia, 2002. –  p.112.

[14] Nikolajeva M. Growing up. The dilemma of children’s literature // Childrens literature as communication: the ChiLPA Project / edited by Roger D. Sell. – Volume 2. – Amsterdam ; Philadelphia, 2002. –  p.113.

[15] After: Воробець Т. Художня своєрідність трилогії Всеволода Нестайка «Теореодори з Васюківки» // Література. Діти. Час: Вісник Центру дослідження літератури для дітей та юнацтва. Вип. 2. – Тернопіль: Навчальна книга – Богдан, 2012. – с.70-77.

[16] Нестайко В. Тореадори з Васюківки. – К.: Веселка, 1973. – 416 с.

[17] Nikolajeva M. Growing up. The dilemma of children’s literature // Childrens literature as communication: the ChiLPA Project / edited by Roger D. Sell. – Volume 2. – Amsterdam ; Philadelphia, 2002. –  p.112.

[18] Костюченко В. Літератрурними стежками. Нарис української літератури для дітей ХХ століття. – К.: «К. І. С.», 2009. – с. 201.

[19] Kümmerling-Meibauer B. Kinderlitaratur, Kanonbildung und literarische Wertung, Stuttgart, 2003. –  352 S.

[20] Kümmerling-Meibauer B. Integration und Ausgrenzung: Wandel in der Bewertung von Kinderliteratur // Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer. Kinderlitaratur, Kanonbildung und literarische Wertung, Stuttgart, 2003. – S. 277.

Children and war in the Ukrainian children’s literature

Uliana Baran,
Candidate of Philological Sciences (PhD.), Associate professor,
President of Ukrainian Research
Center of Children and Youth Literature
Lviv, Ukraine
Tetyana Kachak,
Candidate of Philological Sciences (PhD.), Associate professor
of Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University,
Head of Ivano-Frankivsk branch of Ukrainian Research Center of Children’s and Youth Literature
Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

Children and war in the Ukrainian children’s literature

“Children and war” is one of the most painful problems in the modern Ukrainian society but not new in our history and literature. There are not wars, initiated by Ukrainians. The Famine of Ukrainians in the East by Russians and oppressions of the Ukrainians by Pols in the West, the Second World War, physical genocide of Ukrainian families and their children for the whole century till 1991 saved Pain and Distrust in the generation memory of Ukrainians. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Independence of Ukraine provoked the hope for the future but at the same time also the economic disaster and put the Ukrainians into the survival modus. Maidan was like a scream of a big Ukrainian folk that was united independent on language or mentality, past or future. The war caused again from insatiable Russia: orphans, strangers, death, fear and untruth are the real feelings of the Ukrainian children again. A new generation is in disaster. In our article we would like to show the literary interpretation of the children’s feelings during the history of Ukraine. We introduce the problem trough  the historical and psychological novels written by Gryhir Tjutjunnyk, Volodymyr Rutkivskyj, Vsevolod Nestajko, Galina Malyk, Zirka Menzatjiuk, Volodymyr Arjenjev, Romana Romanyshyn and Andrij Lesiv from Agrafka Studio. We would like to view the lost childhood for the generations of Ukrainians that just lived in the foreign wars between the life and death.

The Soviet’s times came into the history of Ukrainian children’s literature “as the period of long-lasting ideological dependence, political engagement with its critical manifestations of disgustingly-social explaining phenomenon in literature in 1930s referring to the communism idea – (of Moscow) –. And at the same time like the period of forming the “cult of soviets childhood”, creating the numerous of structures, called to carry on only the problems of the childhood and on the extensive system of children’s, later of young-adult literature, that special in the second half of the century was enriched by highly literacy achievements”.

The main aims of all soviets poems and novels between 20th and till the 60th were the proclamation of Lenin’s ideology and the prospering of great and happy Soviets land, happy soviets children, even if there were not happy at all and mostly lived (especially homelessness) in the hardest and undergrounded circumstances of these times. So in the works of Ukrainians children’s writers we can talk about only one ideological soviet propaganda way in the children’s literature. The main topics were patriotism, social humanism, preference the social upon the individual, folk’s friendship, love to the work and so on. The works were tendency realistic due to the extending ideological norms. We talk about the conjuncture of children’s literature, where the esthetic value was not the main. In priority were the ideological stamps, false pathos and falsification of the reality.

An interesting fact is that the official ideological trend in the culture and in literature, special in the children’s literature for these times in Ukraine and whole Soviet Union was like in America and EU after the Second World War the internationalization abasing the cultural borders between nations, with one small difference: while the Soviets tried to create the “cult of soviet childhood”, the other part of the world was trying to create an another utopian model – “world children’s republic”.   Emer O’Sullivan explains the internationalization as the trade method for developing the media-industry that abased borders between American and European world , even if there were still good works written for every special nation and where translated and related adapted for the foreign reading audience what surely influenced the changes in the cultural identities and the further development of children’s literature and its canons. To these times we can speak of two most influenced “international” groups, where the children’s literatures were reintegrated “western region with the exchange between English, German, French, Netherland and Scandinavian languages and one eastern with the Slovenian (special Russian)- Hungarian-German (DDR) exchange” (Klingberg). 

In spite of the conserved well known in the whole world today soviet ideology and mostly political character of the children’s literature in the XXth century, we can follow the most representative Ukrainian children’s writers from the end of XXth century till now who reached a high quality of literary writing to the children, abandoning the ideological propaganda and showing the real feelings and circumstances about the Ukrainian children in the Second World War. From the last century we represent the novels by Hryhir Tjutjunnyk “Klymko” and Volodymyr Rutkivsjkyj “Poterchata”.
Steppe. Donbas. Klymko, 11 years old boy, an orphan. Before the Second World War, lives with his uncle, who takes care of him, checks lessons from school,  brings his nephew some goodies. Klymko is a very kind boy, helps a lot at home and loves his uncle. One night the uncle did not come home. Klymko was looking after him everywhere. Next morning the uncle was brought dead by the friends from railway station where uncle worked. Klymko staid alone. The Second World War started. The school was closed. Italians robbed the houses, Germans raped the young beautiful women and even the small girls, Russians deceired and mocked at poor Ukrainian women with little children. All they together just treated cruelly the peaceful people. Once Klymko saw how one Russian man treated brutal his teacher from the school with a little baby on the hands. She did not have what to eat and where to live. Klymko and his school friend Zulfat decided to invite the teacher to stay together in one sorting station, where the Italians did not manage to find it. The old barrack, where Klimko lived, was bombed by Germans. There was almost nothing to eat, Famine. Klimko decided to go away to get a lot of salt in Slovjansjk or even near Artemivsjk (with the hope to exchange it for some other food for the teacher with a baby, his friend and him to survive) and to find the milk for a little baby. Barefoot and without food he made a long trip to Slovjansk, his feet were petrified, his hands trembled, the tears were running down his cheeks. But he managed to reach the city and went to the marked. The people were exchanging the goods for food. There was one young very beautiful girl. She wanted to sell her beautiful shawl with colorful flowers. At the moment they met each other, appeared the German policeman and shooting on the market, took all young girls, even from their mothers away. Klymko with the help of one old shoemaker saved the girl with the colorful shawl. She was on the way to find her mother. They told her she has to hide her beautiful face and to try to avoid the cities

After a long trip he got the help from the Ukrainian good people, they got him salt and food and milk for the baby. His friend and the teacher were looking for Klimko on the road. He came back to the village after many bad adventures and experiences. He was almost at home as from the forest side he was shot down by the guns. The salt spilled fulfilled with blood from the heart: “Klymka! Kly-y-mka! -  heard he from the hot darkness and nothing more. From the railway crossing, raising the hands, stumbling and falling was running Zulfat to Klymko” (the end of the most emotional novel “Klymko” written in 70th by the awarded Ukrainian children’s classic writer Hryhorij Tjuttjunnyk).

Like Tjuttjinnyk is another one prominent Ukrainian novelist Volodymyr Rutkiwsjkyj writing also his autobiographical novel “Poterchata” about the emotional very hard way with the mother and his little brother away from any Germans or Russians during the Second World War: “Germans shortly before their flight from our village drove all people together to show us how they will hang an old uncle-invalid… Even if he didn’t do anything wrong. … And when ours - (Russians) – came, – so they took at first the bohoduchivsjkyj head of the village Sokolan in the region. There they shoot him dead. Even if he, as it was told in the village Bohoduchiv, was a good and kind man and tried not to offend anybody…”.

On these examples of autobiographical novels we can see how indifferent it is for the Ukrainian children if there are Italians, Germans, Russians or others who make the violence with their parents, relatives and friends. It is just very hard and terrible for the good open hearts of the children that are afraid, hungry, barefooted, they feel sorrow and love in spite of horror around in their reality. They are looking for the love, for good word, for support. They understand their mothers who have to walk them all with little babies trough nights and days without stopping, away from the villages and cities occupied by the insatiable aggressors. These children want to help everybody who needs help. No ideology, only critic of the war, critic of the aggressors – no matter if Germans or Russians, or someone else.

These trends in the Ukrainian children’s literature in spite of “occupation of soviets ideology” are establishing in 60th while «Khrushchev thaw», when the situation in the Soviets had a little bit changed and Ukraine got such an interesting and representative children’s writers like Vsevolod Nestajko, Victor Blyznezj, Jevhen Huzalo, Vasyl Symoneko, Mychajlo Vingranovskyj, Lina Kostenko, Hryhorij Tjuttjunnyk, Volodymy Rutkivsjkyj and others. In their works for children we can find the children’s soul, the feeling and psychological understanding for the uniqueness of childhood and adolescence. These tendencies seem to be still very actually in the Ukrainian children’s literature even nowadays. But most of them were writing trying to teach children to stay with the humor and understanding of the main human values: love, respect to the people, sympathy with the disaster of the people even in any case (war, disaster, famine), avoiding the psychological depressions. To be strong is important for surviving and getting the positive feelings from the life even if it is irreversible war.

If we look now at the developing of children’s literature for example in Germany at the same times, I can suppose that all the movements and changes in the concept of writing for children were made by the adult writers who wished to make something like the self-therapy, being frustrated since second-world-war childhood by some family’ and social traumata. The Ukrainian children’s writers (I am talking now about the same generations of writers, both German and Ukrainians after the Second World War), started to write the funny and lovely stories to make the children happy even if the life was not so, trying to “rewrite” the mistakes from the childhood, showing the better possibilities to stay happy in life despite of all social and generation- troubles, to bring them to find the good way in the future and to create the strong character by himself. In controversies to it German writers started to put out all psychological dangerous options from their childhood but from the adult`s point to show the most popular generation’s, social and cultural conflicts, proclaiming the emancipation of children and mostly leaving their parents’ motivations of behavior during the Second World War out of the texts and also leaving the real current children/reader without an answer and a little hope of “happy” childhood and happy further relations with the parents and family life. Bad parents – good children. Respect to the parents was lost in Germany. Also the value of the family. It is that what Ukrainian writers avoided in the children’s literature, trying to save main human values of love, respect, friendship and holding together for the new generations. They helped to develop the systematic thinking by the new Ukrainian generation that requires multiple skill sets to establish a holistic view on past, presence and explains all relationships between the generations, nations, mentalities.

Like a child in Germany during and after the Second World War was also alone a child in the Ukrainian literature of this period but with love and understanding for its parents. Alone loving the world (Ukrainian way) or alone frustrated (European way). I am also not sure that the personal frustration is something what is really worth to widen very much in the literature for children. The most prominent Ukrainian children’s writer since those times is Vsevolod Nestajko, who explains his wish to write for the children in easy way: “I became the children’s writer. Why for children? – Because I wished to be back into the childhood – but different childhood than I had: Funny, full of adventures, games, entertainments. Therefore are my fairy-tales and adventures novels” . His most popular trilogy “Toreadory z Vasjukivky”  was the first modern Ukrainian adventure story and has still being been awarded by the millions of young readers. The work represents the world of children like ideal, happy and full of everyday adventures despite of the grey, borrowing reality of their factual real soviets life of the last century. It exactly that what Maria Nicolajeva propose to understand as “a symbolic depiction of a maturation process (initiation, rite of passage), so that it is not a strictly mimetic reflection of some concrete “reality”. The scope of text written and marketed for children and young people will therefore reflect a precise phase on a childhood-to-adulthood continuum, whose ethos ranges from a primal harmony (Arcadia, Paradise, Utopia, idyll), through different degrees of departure from it, and onwards into some mission that may either succeed or fail” . So, Vsevolod Nestajko succeeded to create the “primal harmony” of the virtual “idyll” of childhood that the children of Ukraine actually needed and still need. The author was blamed in the “anti-pedagogic” influence on the soviets children  by the communism authorities in the last century but after the Proclamation of the Independence of Ukraine in 1991, from the very beginnings of the XXI century he became the classic of children’s literature. His trilogy has been adapted by the author due to the new social realities of the Ukrainian children in the multicultural world nowadays and was reedited by the first Ukrainian private and the world-wide known publish-house “A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA”. The trilogy is a big novel (461p.) with different integrated genres like epistolary genre (written letters, notices), songs that reflect the Ukrainian history, legends that help the reader to understand the folks’ original mentality and religious’ out-comings. Observation of that text due to the Canon-theory in children’s literature of German prominent investigator Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer , Vsevolod Nestajko, being classic, creates today actually the modern active canon of Ukrainian children’s literature: internationality, mix of genres and developing and widening of traditional canon – are all three aspects of the “processed canon” . The trilogy “Toreadory z Vasjukivky” is a poli-functional, rich in semantic and emotions communicative fiction for the children of the age 10+. For his work the author was many times awarded by different national and international prizes and really is worth to take together with the Ivan Franko place in the world’ international lexicons of children’s literature classics.

Since the time of Independence of Ukraine in 1991 the Ukrainian children’s literature has been extremely fast developing. Thanks the rising of books-exchange started in the young country almost 50 years later than in Europe and America, adaptations of the translations from the children’s books from all over the world to the understanding possibilities of Ukrainian children in their mental, psychological, social perceptional context, Ukraine has got now very new, intelligent and acknowledged protagonist and reader that in the intervarsity media world today is a very strong personality, free from every ideology but with a big tolerance and integrations-abilities in the modern multicultural universe and with the humor sense.

For such one young reader in Ukraine are writing also Galina Malyk and Zirka Menzatjuk. In their works about the Chornobyl (“Zlochynci z paraleljnoho svitu” – “Criminals from the parallel world” in humoristic-sarcastic style by Galina Malyk) or about the collapse of Soviet Union from the point of twelve-years old girl from Western Ukraine in the novel “Jak ja rujnuvala Imperiju” – “How I ruined an Imperium”, – we can follow the modern combination of old literary tradition by Hryhir Tjutjunnyk, Volodymyr Rutkivsjkyj and humoristic and easiness from Vsevolod Nestajko. Memories of the war, disaster but still life gladness and eternal human values are the main intensions. But even in the newest science-fiction novels “Soulary” and “Powder from dragons bones” written by the very young fantast for adolescence Volodymy Arenev we can find how gentle and philosophically he tries to show a fair of the new war by the adults from the generation of the Second World War and not acceptation of the wars disasters by the children in the modern Ukraine, who are playing in the war with the toy soldiers or even recognizing the new one.

A good example for it how the new generation has grown up, how the democratic and free mental activity and life gladness of young Ukrainian people were  broken again from the side of the Russia, Maidan and the War, is the world-well known picture book “The War that Changed Rondo” made by Ukrainian illustrators Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv (Agrafka Studio, “Vydavnyctvo Staroho Leva”): “The town called Rondo was unique. The air was clear and transparent as if woven from the thinnest light. All of its unusual and gentle residents grew flowers, nourished gardens and parks, built peculiar houses, spoke to birds and plants, loved to sing, draw and write poetry. They all enjoyed living in Rondo. Still, the three friends Danko, Zirka and Fabian loved the town the most. Everyone in Rondo knew them. ….

Rondo was famous for its wonderful flowers. The pride and beauty of the town was a large greenhouse located on the central square. It contained a collection of rare flowers and plants from the furthest parts of the planet. The strangest of all was that these flowers could sing. Concerts often took place in the greenhouse. The top venue was a vocal performance of Mozart`s rondo…
It was an ordinary day in Rondo. The residents rushed about with their usual business. Danko was heading to his friends, as he knew that Zirka just returned from her travels and had lots of new stories and drawings. The sun was shining, the flowers and birds were singing. Everything was as usual…
Suddenly all became quiet. Then, a wary whisper spread around:
the WAR is coming to our town…

The residents of Rondo did not know what the War was. It came from nowhere. Black and scary. With rumble and rattle, it slowly crept towards the town, bringing destruction, turmoil and dense darkness along with it. Everything it touched disappeared in obscurity. The most frightening was the fact that the War planted black flowers and dry, prickly weeds along its path. Mute and scentless, they instantly grew out of the earth, interwined into a dense thicket and shielded the sun. Without the sun, the delicate and defenseless flowers of Rondo started to weaken and fade. They had no strength to raise their heads up to the sky. The worst thing they completely stopped singing.

Brave but gentle, Danko, Zirka and Fabian set off against the War. First, they tried talking to it, asking it to go away. Disregarding them, the War stubbornly moved on, and the terrible machines that served it attacked again. They clicked, hissed and scattered fiery sparks, and threw sharp stones.

One of the stones hit Danko in the chest, right where his heart was, and a web of cracks appeared all over his body. Fiery sparks stroke Zirka and the edges of her wings immediately became burnt. The black flower grew right in front of Fabian and pricked his leg.

The War touched everyone”...

In their book Romana and Andij are idealistically showing at the end how it is possible with the lights and all-together to win the war: “The brighter the light and the louder the anthem, the quicker the War disappeared, along with the darkness and prickly black flowers. The whole town was singing the anthem until all the black flowers disappeared and the obscurity dissolved completely.  This was VICTORY! The residents of Rondo slowly rebuilt the town and reconstructed the greenhouse, where new flowers grew and now sing the anthem every morning just as before. Unfortunately, it is impossible to renew everything. The transparent body of Danko still has a web of cracks near his heart, the edges of Zirka`s wings remained burnt, and Fabian is limping on the pricked leg. The residents of the town changed. Each of them has sorrowful memories of the War that changed Rondo forever. Now, there are also many red poppies growing all around the town”. A poppy is an international symbol of commemorating the fallen during the war, beginning with 1914.

Golden list of recommended books