Famous Russian children book

CHERNYI, Sasha (pseud. for Aleksandr Mikhailovich GLIKBERG) and Boris GRIGORIEV (artist)

Detskii ostrov

[The Children's Island]

Publication: [Danzig and Berlin], Uhlstein for Slowo, 1921.

CHERNYI, Sasha (pseud. for Aleksandr Mikhailovich GLIKBERG) and Boris GRIGORIEV (artist), Detskii ostrov

Grigoriev’s famous children book, in the original publisher’s binding; a very good example.

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Our Notes & References

Very good example of this celebrated children book, Chernyi’s first publication in emigration after the poet left Russia in the autumn 1920. This collection of verse about toys, games and zoo animals includes works from the 1910s but also inedited poems which Chernyi wrote in Vilnius. Like Vladimir Nabokov, Sasha Chernyi (also Chorny; 1880-1932) left for Berlin first, but eventually settled in Paris, where he died of a heart attack while helping his neighbours put out a fire.

The book has been praised for Grigoriev’s numerous illustrations, his only work for children. One of the celebrated Russian émigré artists, Boris Grigoriev (1886-1939) was a prominent painter and draughtsman, particularly famous for his distinctive imagery in cabaret and genre scenes, and mysticism. He was expelled from the St Petersburg Academy of Arts for his association with Cubism and Post-Impressionism, as well as for the influence of futurists on his art. In 1919 he secretly left Russia, crossing the Gulf of Finland with his family in a boat. In exile he earned wide recognition: he was elected a member of the Paris Salon d’Automne, had personal exhibitions in major European and American cities, and even headed the Academy of Arts in Santiago, Chile.

This fine publication is fragile and often found in poor condition.


Unidentified bookplate to upper pastedown with a globe, skull and books on a table, with “75” in purple ink instead of the owner’s name (possibly a “Ella Schult” as found in pencil on another example of this bookplate).

Item number



Physical Description

Quarto (31 x 25 cm). 159 pp. with lithographed title, 19 full-page lithographs and illustrations in text, all by Grigoriev.


Original publisher’s cloth-backed boards with colour lithograph illustration mounted to upper board and designed by B. D. Grigoriev, spine lettered in gilt, top edge dyed yellow.


A bit rubbed and scuffed at extremities, boards lightly soiled or stained, lower board slightly sunned along spine; pencil inscription in Cyrillic of Chernyi’s original name “(Glikberg)” next to the author’s name on title, otherwise nicely fresh inside.

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