cover image Children of Glasnost: Growing Up in Soviet

Children of Glasnost: Growing Up in Soviet

Landon Pearson. University of Washington Press, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-295-97090-5

The author, chair of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth, draws on her experiences living in the Soviet Union to inform this overview of Soviet childhood. Topics covered include Soviet theories of child development (baby swaddling keeps the population ``under wraps''); schools (handicapped children are schooled separately); juvenile justice (parents are generally responsible for crimes committed by those under 15); and children's literature and entertainment. Pearson examines these subjects in light of recent changes under Gorbachev. She also devotes useful space to such giants of the revolution as Lenin, the prime moral model for children. This comprehensive but anecdotal book is a curious mix of research and personal essay. Sometimes this provides humor or flavor: we learn Pushkin is the butt of scatological jokes by 10-year-olds. But the fact that the author would not buy a tomato in winter because it was too expensive only distracts. Likewise, arguments stated as opinions lessen the work's authority. Though not a definitive analysis, this book, written with passion and energy, is recommended to the layperson interested in Soviet children. (Sept.)