writing for kids
- I've been asked to write some stuff about Russian garb for the Page's school
in Meridies. They publish a newsletter. I'm not used to writing simple
articles!! :-) I keep starting with "Russian costume was different from
western European costume like England and France". On one false start I even
tried to write about who the Slavs were, but forget that one, it's way too
academic. Should I just forget about saying exactly who the Russians were
and get right into the costumes? I have something about the cold that I
think should stay in, or they'll never understand why they wore so many
layers of heavy wool. Now here's a really dumb question. Why *exactly* was
travel so difficult in Russia in the winter--did people die of hypothermia,
were the roads--if indeed there were any, I don't know--screwed up by all of
the ice and snow, or were there other factors I can't think of right now (I
just got home from Spring Coronation and my brain is fried)--like the rivers
being frozen? How can I explain why the costuming was so different without
being boring as heck? I'm stuck! And hey, here's a chance to corrupt the
youth of Meridies!! :-) Thanks in advance for any help with this stuff.
- Isabelle asked...
>Why *exactly* was travel so difficult in Russia in the winter, didI'd say that the first problem would be the cold. Even today, Moscow
>people die of hypothermia, were the roads--if indeed there
>were any, I don't know--screwed up by all of the ice and snow,
>or were there other factors I can't think of right now [snip]
>like the rivers being frozen?
temperatures in winter fall to -20C / -5F in the *daytime*. The period
c1300-c1700 is known as the Little Ice Age because temperatures then were
substantially colder - the Baltic froze solid in 1303 and 1306-7, for
example. So yes, these temperatures could kill.
Roads, where they existed, were of course unsurfaced. A muddy track that
freezes solid is basically a set of hard, sharp ridges and ruts that make
going *very* tough. (Similar to the problems of travelling in Aferica
today - get bogged down in the mud in the rainy season, get shredded feet
and tires on rock-hard mud in the dry season). And where there were no
regular routes, or only footpaths, it was cross country time...
The next problem would be the sheer volume of snow - heavy work to shovel,
and difficult to force a way through, unless you can go over the top of it
on snow shoes or skis. Sledges are great, but the horses pulling them still
have to struggle through the snow - a few feet of snow and travel gets
harder. And of course trade must have slowed right down for several months
each year, as the heavier the sledge the more difficult using it became.
Rivers frozen hard might actually have been an *advantage* - far easier to
zoom down the river ice on a sledge than battle the snowdrifts. (FWIW,
horses have been trained to run on ice since at least the time of the
Marcomannic Wars in the C4th - there is an account somewhere of mounted
Jazyges attacking Legionaries crossing the frozen Danube - and I'm told that
horse races on ice still take place in Switzerland every winter).
Just my two grosschen's worth...
A far-away country of which we know little:
"Bohemia: a desert country near the sea"
[Shakespeare: Winter's Tale, III.iii, stage direction]
- On Sun, 2 Apr 2000, Patricia Hefner wrote:
> I've been asked to write some stuff about Russian garb for the Page's schoolTwo books you might find useful (and both of which are in print):
> in Meridies. They publish a newsletter. I'm not used to writing simple
> articles!! :-)
"How a Shirt Grew in the Field" -- is a Russian children's book written
near the beginning of the 19th century. While not *strictly* period, the
book shows through a child's view just how flax seed sown in the field
eventually becomes a wonderful tunic. The rural activities are
practically medieval. If you have trouble finding it, I have a copy and
can send the full citation.
"My first 1000 words in Russian" -- I don't own this book, but it is in a
style similar to Richard Scarry's books (if you know what that means),
except that it's not a book populated by animals. Each page covers words
on a particular theme, and I recall a 2-page spread on clothing words,
where the words were given in Russian spelling and in transliteration.
It may be too modern, but it might also give you some ideas. If you need
a full citation to find it, I can drop by the UNICEF store, where I saw
it, and get more info. It's one in a series of books that also includes
English, Spanish, French, and others.