One of our first posts was on Russian picture books for children. Amit and I both read lots of Russian books growing up; and their images and words are still vibrantly alive in our minds...
My favourite book as a child was called The Rainbow Flower and it's vivid images and story stayed with me for ever - though I'd forgotten its name. Recently, I found it in a raddi shop to my utter delight. And now we've discovered that it's online too! I cannot believe that someone's had the love, the time and the sense of dedication to actually scan and put in the entire story accompanied by the book's beautiful drawings.
The story is simple. Zhenya, a 'good', if absent-minded girl, goes out to buy bread rings. She loses them (notice the dog nibbling at them) but is given a magic rainbow flower by an old woman. The flower can fulfill wishes, but each time it does, you lose a petal. Zhenya's wishes range from the desperate (getting her mom's broken vase fixed) to the slightly foolhardy (getting all the toys of the world - the pic shows lovely, cascading toys being sent back by a horrified Zhenya on the rooftop). But her last wish is the most useful and it gets her that precious commodity, a friend. The illustrations range from the dream-like to the very real. More than anything else, I loved Zhenya's character because she's not the most robust of fiction's kids. She's dreamy, clumsy, a bit unpopular, and a bit greedy. Zhenya was refreshing because I didn't have to aspire to be her; in parts, I was her already! Read the story and see more pics here.
There's more here too.