to CHILDREN OF THE WORLD
When it was
It is winter now in Russia. It's snowing. In St:Petersburg,
the snowflakes land upon the cathedrals' cupolas,
upon palaces' roofs, on the fanciful railings of bridges.
It then makes the city a real stage for a fairy tale...
It is even more
so on Christmas Eve, when in the streets and in the windows
the multicoloured lights adorning the Christmas trees
begin twinkling, and the snow falls and falls endlessly,
creating high drifts, richly coating trees and bushes.
Upon nights like this fairy tales roam the city streets...
...Stars drop and drop from the sky,
To pour down into snow from the dark spruce branches.
Across the vast Russian land
Orphaned children trail to the howling song of snowstorms.
just do not see the gala lights,
do not laugh nor play,
adult world has cast them aside.
they on the verge or already beyond it?...
stars might suddenly ring out bells
light up their darkened way.
Lord the Saviour Himself spreads His wings
fast to the children's rescue.
their troubles will disperse like smoke!
miraculous ray of light will cut the vast darkness
the children, abandoned by their own country,
the hospitable Heavenly palace
was dark and damp in the cellar, but Mike was long accustomed
to it. Here, it was his dwelling. So it happened because
he had no other place to live, no room in a cosy home,
no kin -- nobody at all. What little he managed to get
to eat, he got at nearby canteens and cafes. There is
always something left over in somebody's plate or cup...
in Mike's basement, behind an inconspicuous door, had
once been the janitor's room. Today the boy was sitting
alone and very sad. He had heard that soon it was Christmas,
and feeling extremely lonely, he was thinking bitter
thoughts about his orphan's life...
all of a sudden he heard strange footfalls. Somebody
stomped and shifted about, and the next moment the boy
had to squint against a dazzling light! And when finally
he dared to reopen his eyes and even put them to a little
crevice in the wall, he perceived a red-haired woman
in a fir coat and by her side, an old man in a long
coat and a hat. In his hand the old man was holding
a little golden key of unique beauty: it shone with
a light of its own, casting a shimmering radiance upon
everything around it. What miracles!
my little Karla," the old man said, "nobody
will even think of searching here. And who might know
that something is amiss! But nevertheless, let us hurry.
Now it's Christmas Eve, so we should not be seen among
mortals. Let us hide the key under those torn rags..."
And lifting the heap of rags squeamishly with his finger
tips, the old man concealed under it the key, stowed
away in a little bag of rough cloth. The fairy light
was extinct, and now only a sickly green flame from
the old man's ring illuminated the vault. The red-haired
woman giggled and clattered about, rubbing her hands
and looking contented.
we've done it, my lord the Black Knight!" she said.
"No kid will ever divine now where the key to the
Kids' Happiness Home is kept!"
Karla, before somebody might overhear! Should you so
risk our idea of making that Home miss its Christmas
my lord, modern kids no more believe in magic things.
They merit themselves too smart..."
night --" and the old man lifted a hand, as if
to utter a terrible wow, "The Home will remain
locked and undiscovered! Because only a child, who himself
has experienced grief and injustice, but has retained
his soul unsoiled and his thoughts clean from evil,
will be capable to give the Eternal Father a spark of
his Faith, Hope and Love, opening the sacred door with
this magic key!"
can well remember, your lordship," Karla replied.
"So has it been written in the Book of Fate: but
this can happen only during the Christmas Night."
The red-hair drew herself up to her full height and
suddenly she croaked, glancing around with fiery eyes,
"Yes! Nevermore will the kids find their way to
they even need not to seek out the road," slowly
and clearly the old man said. "One should just
march on and on right forward, when a heavy snow will
be falling... But it is really high time for us to be
gone. Let's hasten!"
turned the ring on his finger and suddenly began rapidly
spinning himself, together with the red-haired Karla.
Mike was scared to the bones' marrow. He drew his head
into his shoulders, shut his eyes tight and held his
breath... And when he again dared do look through the
crevice, what did he see instead of just an old man
and a red-haired woman? A giant with dead merciless
eyes, black-helmeted and black-cloaked, astride an iron
charger. And by his side, a flame-haired giantess on
a horse like his own...
again the terrible Knight turned his ring, and both
disappeared as never had been. Just an ordinary damp
and chill vault was before Mike's eyes. But somewhere
above, at a great distance, departing hooves thundered...
it was that Mike had the real creeps. However, soon
he managed to regain his wits and clambered out of his
hiding place. Immediately he poked a hand under the
heap of rags... And here it was, the small bag! He felt
it for the key, and the key was right there. Mike hastened
into the street... Dusk was gathering already. Passers-by
were hurrying home, to where the windows boasted gay
coloured lights. And snow still kept falling heavy,
beating into Mike's face, easily getting inside the
worn collar of his old coat...
nothing, the boy goes as he was told: "On and on
right forward." The shrill wind catches snowflakes
and sends them dancing around street lanterns, talls
houses... around the entire city. But now Mike fears
nothing, as he has the magic key in his pocket! He just
has to go on and on, eventually to stumble into the
by little, the multi-storey buildings began falling
back. Here the tram rails ended, and beyond, the black
forest loomed. If one intended to go right forward,
it had to be straight into the woods...
entered the forest. His hands were numb with cold, and
so were his feet, as he had nothing better than rubber
boots upon them. Great snowdrifts seemed ready to swallow
his tiny figure, nothing but a mote in a vast world
where nobody bothered to care for him. The boy had long
ago lost count of stumbles on his way. He fell into
the snow, but rose and marched again. On and on, right
forward. Where this Home might be?.. He only could hear
unfamiliar birds calling from great trees. Here and
there, branches creaked and snow avalanched from the
boughs... Finally, complete darkness cloaked the forest,
and with it, Mike. Desperately, he took out the key
and lifted it high over his head... It shone bright
and true, precious gems emitting a wonderful glow. Fearful
darkness fled and dissolved. The unspeakable beauty
of the benighted winter forest was suddenly revealed.
Tall spruce stood in fluffy blue coats, birches put
on fine fir caps. The snow shimmered, reflecting the
moon and heavenly constellations! But the main thing,
Mike saw he appeared to be standing in front of a most
wondrous palace. Without hesitation, he ran up the porch
stairs and pushed the door... It was closed. But over
it, silver chimes began playing and chirruping:
have come! So fear no more,
unlock the sacred door!”
so Mike put the key into the keyhole of the lock, never
heeding the snowstorm behind his back suddenly scream
out with Karla's and the Black Knight's voices: "He
has stolen it! We'll never have him dare..." He
turned the key. Beautiful music started to play, and
the door opened. On the threshold, a tall sandy-bearded
man stood, smiling down upon the boy. His sad eyes beamed
with kindness and sympathy.
you have arrived, my son."
who be you?"
am the Eternal Father of all the children."
over there, many of them are having real bad luck, never
knowing how to find Them!"
their plight has come to an end. With you at my side,
I'll force my way through space as well as time to help
them. Let us fly together to the rescue of your unhappy
little brothers and sisters!"
shot a brief glance into the Home. Therein he glimpsed
a great hall with a number of Christmas trees in full
array. Around them, children were singing and dancing.
A lot of sweets and choice refreshments... Fragrant
flowers, with honey bees and bumble-bees buzzing over
again," the Eternal Father told him. "You
can choose to stay there right now. You'd like it. Here
you'll find kin and friends and everything you ever
dreamed of. And without, just look -- there is the madness
of the winter storm and all the dark forces planning
how to cripple my work. It is so hard to help the unhappy.
It might take a lot of time, perhaps the entire span
of your life!"
said Mike firmly. "You need my help. So let's fly."
the boy stepped outside, into the stormy night. Immediately
the howling wind strove to blow him off his feet. But
the Eternal Father laid His hand across Mike's shoulders,
and suddenly there were great light wings behind his
back! He felt as happy as never before. "Hurrah!"
he yelled... and up he soared...
was very late in the night now, but the city appeared
still far from asleep. Everywhere, people celebrated
the sacred Christ's Birthday. The snowstorm itself went
down, subdued. The snow glittered blue in the street
lights. Clear and starry became the night. And very
low over the city, two figures were flying. The Eternal
Father and a boy. One was seeking his children, and
the other, his brothers and sisters, who did not yet
know that very soon they'll find themselves dancing
around the best Christmas tree of a palace, of a true
Home, ready to protect them forever from all the evils
and injustice of this world.
for the book, Petersburg Stories:
This book consists of beautiful, deeply lyrical
fantastic stories. The action takes place in St.
Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Peter Pan and Mio,
Pippy and Harry Potter -the heroes of the famous
children's books - have got new friends in Russia.
And though they have much in common with their
British, Swedish and American contemporaries,
same ages, (unsettled life, public disregard,
but also the kind souls, and hearts - in quest
of understanding and love) - the Russian heroes
have their own fate, their own understanding of
are not magicians. They are just ordinary children
living in the splendid Russian city - St:Petersburg.
Maybe some day, having met the heroes of the American,
English and Swedish books, these St:Petersburg
kids together with them will help the children
of our planet - those who might lack happiness,
or, even worse, are downright unhappy in life.
This is wonderful work of St. Petersburg's writer
is considered to be among the best books for children.
This book, where is the dynamical plot, full of
unexpected changes and adventures,
combination of a light prose with nice poems should
be by a real revelation not only for children
but even for adults.
by Russian writer Marii Semyonovoy
Televitskaya, a member of the Journalists'
and Literarians' Unions of Russia, SCBWI - US.