Esphyr Slobodkina

Honoring the Life and Art of a Pioneer of American Abstraction

Boris and His Balalaika

written by Esphyr Slobodkina and illustrated by Bobri

Published in 1964 by Abelard-Schuman

SYNOPSIS: This is an enchanting tale of a poor boy who is a born dreamer and who loves to play and sing songs on the one family treasure, his Father’s balalaika.

Because Boris cannot find an ordinary job, the villagers call him useless and good-for-nothing. Boris does try to find work. But, alas, when he ploughs, the furrows are crooked. Even the berries he gathers are too ripe to sell and the mushrooms in his basket turn out to be poisonous toadstools.

Finally Boris becomes a cowherd. In his lowly job he is laughed at but happy until the Important General sets up camp nearby and orders Boris to be bound hand and foot and brought before him, because Boris refuses to bring the General provisions.

About the Illustrations: A pencil drawing produced in a slightly abstract style.

About the Story: Slobodkina dedicated the story to her husband with the quote: “ To William whose clever feet proved that dancing could be fun even for me”.

Sample of Inside Pages: