Introduction: Yiddish Writing for and about Children
In comparison to the earlier period, Soviet literary production for children during the 1930s was more conventional in style, conservative in content, and ideologically restricted. Along with many other prominent Soviet writers, such as Der Nister, David Hofshteyn and Peretz Markish, Kvitko was subjected to severe criticism by the Communist vigilantes. The dominant figure in that field was the poet Leyb Kvitko whose poetry was familiar to virtually every Russian-speaking child in the Soviet Union. The breakthrough came in the early 1930s, when Kvitko's poetry was discovered by his neighbour in Kharkiv, the leading Ukrainian poet Pavlo Tychina. In 1936, he began working on a novel in verse, titled Yoyne, a revolutionary epic based on the life of the prominent Red Army commander Yonah Yakir. Like Kvitko, Der Nister divides animals into the harmless small ones, such as the hare and squirrel, and the dangerous bigger beasts, such as the fox, wolf and bear.