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Nikolay Nosov: Neznaika trilogy

Layla’s review of Nikolai Nosov’s trilogy:

This is the first author whom I have read by myself at the age of 5. He was one of the most popular children’s writers in the Soviet Union who started off as a documentary film maker, although, I believe he can, and should, be enjoyed at any age. In fact, I use his Mite trilogy as one of the paradigms of social relations and knowledge presented for children in my doctoral dissertation. His books are full of wit, knowledge, irony, justice, joy and love and are presented in a lively and engaging manner.

Dunno & Mite trilogy, part I: The Adventures of Dunno in Flower Town, presents a socialist anarchist utopia of Flower town. This society is self sufficient and enjoys a variety of personalities. It raises questions of the role of science and medicine, travel and knowledge, self-subsistence and hierarchy in a simple, humorous and concomitantly lovely style. Margaret Wetlin, an American who had immigrated to Russia during Stalinism, made an excellent translation of this book into English.

In the Mite trilogy part II Dunno in Sun City, Dunno together with two friend-mites, a girl and a boy, travel to a technologically advanced city whose structure and social organisation reminds one of the communist state. However, in this organisation, we see problems that are not an issue in the first society, namely the presence of police and questions of crime. The plot builds a fascinating series of adventures around these questions and constantly returning to the question of science and technology, conscience and society, good and bad acts in an engaging manner. Unfortunately, this has not been translated into English yet. If anyone is interested to sponsor my translation, I’d do it with great pleasure.

In the final book of the trilogy, Dunno on the Moon , the mites become technologically advanced and fly out to space. Although Nosov tickles the scientific debates and institutions of knowledge, and he sees technological advancement as both problematic yet offering possibilities to travel and face the harsh realities of the capitalist society on the moon. Nosov depicts realistically and with great sensitivity the plight of the poor who toil for industrial enterprises owned by the rich – a reality that only exacerbates in our time and despite the seeming invisibility of the David Copperfields of our day because they have been moved to the so-called “third-world” which I know only too well but with which most “first-worlders” do not identify themselves and hence dismiss as a fickle of post-industrial imagination and paranoia. The book is an interesting read that raises many important social questions.

For an in-depth analysis of Dunno’s trilogy (and other children’s books) see part II of my doctoral dissertation (published in The Paulinian Compass, June 2010) titled:

Genealogies of Wilderness and Domestication in Children’s Narratives: Understanding Genesis and Genetics in the Untangling of Identity.


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  1. Comment by Bennie:

    Very nice, the translation of the first book. I was actually looking for the translation of the 3rd book, to the moon. I used to read these stories as a kid, in russia, but because I don’t live there anymore I can’t read russian anymore and was looking for a english translation. If anyone knows where to get it, please tell. Otherwise I need to find someone to translate it.

    December 23, 2008 @ 8:35 pm
  2. Comment by Ana:

    I am actually in the process of working on the translation of the third book (about the Moon)!

    January 18, 2009 @ 3:02 am
  3. Comment by Alex:

    Hello everyone.

    We are a huge community of Dunno lovers here in Bucharest, but unfortunately none of us has an english version of Dunno on the Moon.

    We would be very grateful and willing to pay whatever necessary if any of you would be kind enough to help us.

    My e-mail is: romsourcingap@yahoo.com

    Please write if you can help.

    Many thanks.


    February 10, 2009 @ 9:56 am
  4. Comment by Madalina Olariu:

    Hello everyone,

    my husband and I are big Dunno fans, but we cannot find the last two books. As far I understand, there isn’t an English translation available for the second part. But is there one for the third? If so, we would be grateful if anyone could let us know where to find it.

    Many thanks.

    Madalina and Tudor

    June 5, 2009 @ 9:40 pm
  5. Comment by Marleny:


    June 22, 2009 @ 6:56 pm
  6. Comment by Vadim:

    PART I

    Chapter 1 Dunno Dreams
    Some of our readers have probably already read the book The Adventures of Dunno and His Friends. In that book there was described a fabulous land in which there lived Little Fellows and Little Girls—that is to say, little boys and little girls or, as they are also called, Little Fellows. Just such a Little Fellow was Dunno. He lived in Sun City on Bell Street together with his friends Doono, Swifty, Scatterbrain, the engineers Bendum and Twistum, the musician Trills, the arist Blobs, doctor Pillman, and many others. The book tells how Dunno and his friends took a balloon trip, landed in Greenville and Kite City, and about what they saw and learned on the trip. Returning from their travels, Doono and his friends went to work. They began to construct a bridge over Cucumber River. They also built water pipes making them from reed and fountains, which they had seen in Green City.

    to be continued… if you want :-)

    December 2, 2010 @ 8:35 am
  7. Comment by Vadim:

    Some minor corrections…

    Should be “He lived in Flower City on Bell Street…”

    December 2, 2010 @ 9:13 am
  8. Comment by jayantha:

    I’m from Sri Lanka. I read this book (translation) first in 1964. Not only us children but also our parents loved the book very much at that time, & we all have fond memories about the characters of this book.It made our childhood bright.
    I recently gave this book – after 46 years – to the niece of mine who is 13, and she was so much absorbed in it and she also loves the book and its characters.
    I think this book has timeless quality about it.

    June 19, 2012 @ 6:53 am
  9. Comment by Victoria:

    I have read all these in Russian. My favourite one has always been the third one – “Neznaika on the Moon”. I can still read Russian with no problem, however, there are so many people that I’d like to give this book to, and the can’t read Russian! It’d be great to have them all in English.
    Has anyone completed translations of the other two?

    Ana, how is your work getting along?

    (Cheers from Hong Kong)

    September 13, 2012 @ 3:26 am
  10. Comment by Anna:

    My 4 year old can’t wait for the 3rd book “Neznaika on the Moon”. He loves the first one, translation is fabulous.

    November 19, 2012 @ 2:25 pm
  11. Comment by piyali:

    thanks a ton for the link to Dunno & Mite trilogy, part I: The Adventures of Dunno in Flower Town :-) i loved Nikolai Nosov’s Rat-A-tat-tat as a kid and wish you explore his other works :)

    March 9, 2013 @ 4:00 am
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