Chuck and Geck by Arkady Gaidar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
We know little of world literature. It is not entirely our fault. Very few of the books written in other languages are translated or distributed. One of the offshoots of Communism was the availability of Russian literature. Beautifully produced and translated books in Russian were available at subsidised rates to us. Through one such agency that specialised in Russian Literature - Punjab Book Centre - I read many wonderful books by Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Anton Chekov, Fyodor Dosteovsky, Maxim Gorky. We may have heard of Tolstoy, but not the others, I am sure, were it not for the 'propaganda' literature distributed far and wide by the Russians.
Among the books scattered around my house, I found this book about two naughty little boys who throw away a telegram by their father. As a result of this, they find themselves in an abandoned camp in Siberia at the end of a very long train journey. The book remained in my mind, a sweet story about two energetic young children and their young mother.
I tried to look for the book, not an easy task when you do not remember either the name of the book, or of the author. On an impulse, a few days ago, I typed the theme of the book into google in an attempt to locate something about the book.
This time, I hit paydirt, and found not only the name of the book and the author, but also a pdf file of the story. I was thrilled. And of course, I read the story through. It was such a sweet little tale of two little boys and their adventures in Siberia.
The book was written by Arkady Gaidar, who wrote several books and was a notable member of the Bolshevik party. He died young, serving his country. From this book, I gauge he was an excellent writer as well.
The story goes like this. Chuck and Geck live in Moscow with their mother. Their father is a Geologist who is away in Siberia. The father wants them to visit him for Christmas and New Year. A few days later he sends a telegram which the children lose.
When they reach the remote camp after days of travel, they find it abandoned. Luckily there is a watchman present. He is a grumpy old man, not pleased by this sudden intrusion. He leaves them at the camp in his hut, with a few provisions and some wood for the fire and goes on a mission.
In his absence the young mother has to work hard to keep herself and the boys warm and fed. They have some adventures too which could turn very serious.
It is a beautifully written book and something all children should read. Alas, it is not a book that we will find on bookshelves of our neighbourhood stores, not any more.
I see that this was made into a film as well. Now my next mission is take a look at the movie as well.
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