PHILIPOK by Leo Tolstoy


by & adapted by & illustrated by
Age Range: 3 - 7
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A children's story by the great storyteller, set in the wintry scenes of a Russian village. Philipok wants to go to school so badly that he puts on his hat and starts to follow his big brother right out the door. His mother gently tells him that he is too young and must stay home. Undeterred, he decides to take matters into his own hands and, one morning when no one is looking, sneaks out of the house and heads across the village to school. On the school’s doorstep, he loses his nerve, but is shooed in by a passing grown-up. Once inside, he is intimidated by the noise and activity in the room full of children. Challenged, he shows off his knowledge and demonstrates that he (more or less) knows the alphabet. To his utter delight, the teacher declares that Philipok is indeed ready for school and can join the other children in the classroom. Spirin’s illustrations are less sophisticated than usual, but that makes this book all the more accessible to younger children. While the palette is subtle, with many browns and grays, there are touches of gold—the church steeple, the boy’s hair—and the children’s faces are sweet and appealing. No one can paint snow and fur like Spirin, and there are lovely touches of color, including the quilt on the bed and the flowers on the shawls the women wear. The double-paged spread that shows Philipok playing with his colorful toys and book is especially inviting. The language is uninspired and the story slight, but the theme will appeal, especially to those who can’t wait to be grown enough to begin the same activities as their older siblings. All will admire Philipok’s bravery in traveling alone across the sometimes scary village. Not as substantial a story as Kashtanka, the Chekhov story also illustrated by Spirin, but certainly not without its charms. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-399-23482-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Philomel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2000


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