You gotta hand it to Russian children's authors and their... creativity. For example, there is a book entitled "The Wizard of Emerald City". It's about a girl who gets transported by a tornado to a magical land where she helps a scarecrow, a metal woodman, and a lion. There are falling houses, flying monkeys, unhygienic witches, and impostor wizards. Oh, and the girl's name is Ellie, not Dorothy. So that's different.
And then there's the most beloved character in all of Russian children's literature, Doctor Aybolit (translated as Doctor Ouchhurts). He talks to the animals, travels to Africa... Yep, it's Doctor Dolittle, alright! Except...
Except that the author, Korney Chukovsky, did not blatantly rip off Hugh Lofting's Dolittle (and to be fair, the original credit was always given). Other than the framework, the stories are vastly different. (For example, in Chukovsky's story, the African chief does not desire to become white. Yeah, that happens in Doctor Dolittle. Look it up.) And, to finally make this discussion relevant to this website, Chukovsky was inspired to create Aybolit after meeting Zemach Shabad, a doctor from Vilnius, Lithuania... You guessed it, a Jew.
Now, the Russian version of Pinocchio... Don't get us started.
March 14, 2009