Review of “Russian Optimism: Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up”

“Russian Optimism:  Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up”

Edited and translated by Ben Rosenfeld

Illustrated by Dov Smiley

This coffee table book containing thirty of “Russia’s most horrifically hysterical nursery rhymes in English” was recently in the top 20 Amazon dark humor books!


Reading “Russian Optimism:  Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up” reminded me of how happy I was to not be stuck on a cattle car headed to a concentration camp.  That’s the kind of unbridled joy unleashed from the gulags of my mind by this entertaining coffee table book published by Ben Rosenfeld (editor/translator) and Dov Smiley (illustrator).

There are seven chapters (which reflect groupings of similar tragic threads), revealing thirty mini-horror-tales that hilariously encapsulate what it must be like to grow up in Russia.

You can have great fun at social gatherings by reading your favorite selections in Russian:  a transliteration of each rhyme is provided, along with the actual Russian, should you be literate in that language.  It’s always fun to read aloud at kids’ parties when you can entertain the tiny masses with rhymes like “The Rat” (from Chapter 4,  Aquatic Adventures):

RO Rat poem

Russian Optimism - The RatHere’s something I plan to read at the next engagement party I attend.  From the first chapter (“Moral Messages”), we have “The Old Lawnmower”:

RO Lawnmower poem

Russian Optimism - The Old Lawnmower

One more sample:  “The Pineapple” highlights a major difference between American and Russian viewpoints.  In our country, this fruit is a symbol of inclusion and prosperity.  In Russia, not so much:

RO Pineapple poem

Russian Optimism - The Pineapple

“Russian Optimism:  Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up” is available for sale now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as at its very own website (such a luxury!):  Russian Optimism – The Website.

About the author: Ben Rosenfeld is a comedian and writer who has appeared on FOX’s Laughs, CBS This Morning and Rooftop Comedy. He is the creator of “Russian Optimism: Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up,” an illustrated coffee table book which has spent time on Amazon’s Top 20 for Dark Humor Books. Ben has been featured as TimeOut New York’s Joke of the Week, twice headlined at Caroline’s on Broadway, hosted at the Lincoln Center and performs nightly in New York City. Each week he co-hosts the Passive Aggressive Podcast and recently released his first comedy album, “Neuro Comedy,” both of which are available on iTunes.


About Joanna Rapoza

I've gone to (100's of) pieces here in my blogs. Read, enjoy, laugh, cure insomnia; it's your choice.
This entry was posted in Book reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s