I was actually digging around for digital copies of the Moomin books by Tove Jansson but instead stumbled upon this treasure trove.
The inclusion of a child in each image and the use of direct address (“ты”) in every text personalizes the narrative: the book strays away from the dryness and objective detachment usually associated with information booklets, but instead is designed to be experienced in an interactive, almost immersive way. The child reader is primed to identify himself with the child depicted in the book, follow his journey throughout the pages, and imagine himself on a tour with an elder, who takes him around to meet various Commissars and explains with direct, familial terms: “here’s what this Commissar is doing for you.” The simple, rhythmic language of the texts evokes children’s songs or chants with catchy rhymes and cheerful tones, contrary to the dry, technical language found in some other children’s books in this collection (such as “Bread Factory”), so that the book would be comprehensible to young (even pre-school) children, to read alone, in groups, or with family members, presumably out aloud or even recited.
Many of these commissars from early years of the Soviet Union later opposed the party majority organized by Stalin, and were persecuted for their alleged conspiracy with the Trotskyist opposition groups. Amongst the fourteen Commissars listed above, six were executed (Alexander Smirnov, Vasily Schmidt, Ivan Smirnov, Yan Rudzutak, Lev Kamenev, and Alexey Rykov), two were killed in labor camps (Grigory Sokolnikov and Mikhail Frunze), one committed suicide (Dmitry Kursky), and one fled overseas (Aron Sheinman – fittingly the Commissar for Foreign Trade).