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Russian Optimism is an illustrated coffee table book of thirty of Russia’s most horrifically hysterical nursery rhymes, in English. Read more

New York, NY Publishing
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This project was successfully funded on June 16, 2014.

Russian Optimism is an illustrated coffee table book of thirty of Russia’s most horrifically hysterical nursery rhymes, in English.

New York, NY Publishing
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About this project

What Is It?

Russian Optimism is an illustrated coffee table book of thirty of Russia’s most horrifically hysterical nursery rhymes translated for the first time for an English speaking audience.

Each rhyme is 2-4 lines, with an innocent title and a horrible ending. Each rhyme is accompanied by a brightly colored yet twisted illustration of the scenario described to add humor.

For example, The Woods: “A little boy found a machine gun. Nothing lives in the woods anymore.”

All of these are REAL rhymes that Russians tell each other. I have not made any of them up. Russia has a very dark culture.

The rhymes are grouped in seven ironically titled chapters: Moral Messages, Parenting Pointers, Classic Cooking, Aquatic Adventures, Close Calls, Cheery Children and Explosive Endings.

Illustration and Design Examples

Design Example #1: The Bright Side
Design Example #1: The Bright Side
Design Example #2: The Woods
Design Example #2: The Woods

Book Design & Layout:

The book will be about 62 pages: A foreword, a dedication page, 30 illustrated pages and 30 pages of text. 

Each two-page layout will have the illustration on one side, and the title of the rhyme, the English text, the Russian text and the Russian pronunciation on the other. The background color of the text page varies to compliment the accompanying illustration’s color palette (see examples above).

The book will be a hardcover, full color coffee table book that's between 6” x 6” and 9” x 9”. 

My Moment Of Insight

Last year, I was in a funk and visited my dad. To cheer me up, he started reading me dark Russian nursery rhymes. The stories were so crazy and over the top that I laughed and laughed. I realized my life wasn’t that bad and the joy came back. Shortly thereafter, I decided to share these horribly funny rhymes with the English-speaking world.

It’s my hope that translating and illustrating these classic Russian rhymes will help the English speaking audience appreciate their Russian colleagues, friends, lovers and the culture at large.

These poems are a dark way of saying, “Don’t be so sad, things could be worse. At least nobody you know has (insert rhyme).”  

Please fund this so we can cheer up the people in our lives.

Funding Reached Update:

I'm beyond thrilled that we've reached our funding goal with a few days left! 

If we reach $4,000: I will upgrade the book designer AND add five additional rhymes and illustrations (ten additional pages).

If we reach $5,000: I will add another five rhymes (ten more pages).

The original thirty rhymes of this project were chosen from a list of sixty three rhymes that I really liked, so there are plenty of hilariously dark rhymes left.

Risks and challenges

The main risk is in delays. If funded, this book will be created. But it's possible I'm underestimating the amount of time illustration, design, physical printing and/or rewards fulfillment will take.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    18 backers

    THE E-BOOK. We email you a PDF version of the book.

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    54 backers

    THE BOOK. We mail you the hardcover version of the book. Includes THE E-BOOK too.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    Pledge $40 or more

    14 backers

    THE SIGNED BOOK. We mail you a signed version of the book by both Ben Rosenfeld (creator/translator) and Dov Smiley (illustrator). If you tell us what you want us to write as part of the signature, we'll add that too. Includes THE E-BOOK too.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    12 backers

    NAME IN DEDICATIONS PAGE. We list your name in the dedications / thank you page at the start of the published book. Includes THE SIGNED BOOK.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    Pledge $75 or more

    3 backers Limited (27 left of 30)

    ORIGINAL INK DRAWING. You get one of Dov's original ink drawings from this project. Includes THE SIGNED BOOK.

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    0 backers

    CUSTOM B&W CARICATURE. Dov draws a custom black and white caricature of any photo or idea you send him. He sends it to you as a digital image. Includes THE SIGNED BOOK.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    CUSTOM COLOR CARICATURE. Dov draws a custom color caricature of any photo or idea you send him. He sends it to you as a digital image. Includes THE SIGNED BOOK.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    Pledge $250 or more

    2 backers Limited (18 left of 20)

    BE DRAWN INTO THE BOOK. Dov draws you in as a character in the book. This will be in the published book forever and ever. Includes THE SIGNED BOOK & NAME IN DEDICATIONS PAGE.

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    0 backers

    PRIVATE COMEDY SHOW. Ben does a private 50 minute comedy show for you and your friends at a place of your choosing. (This is limited to within a 200 mile radius of New York City, unless you're willing to pay for additional travel costs. You are responsible for getting the venue.) Includes 5 SIGNED BOOKS.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $1,500 or more

    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    PRIVATE DRAWING PARTY + PRIVATE COMEDY SHOW + BE DRAWN INTO THE BOOK. Dov comes along to Ben's comedy performance and creates custom drawings of you and your friends during / after the show. (This is limited to within a 200 mile radius of New York City, unless you're willing to pay for additional travel costs.) Includes 10 SIGNED BOOKS.

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Funding period

- (32 days)