Jul 31, 2011

Knock, Knock, Teremok!

Knock, Knock Teremok! A Traditional Russian Tale
Adapted and Illustrated by Katya Arnold

     A Teremok is a traditional pitched-roof Russian cottage.  In Knock, Knock Teremok!, a group of animals come to an abandoned teremok.  First came the Fly and since there was nobody living in the teremok, she made it her home.  Then came a mouse who also moved in, followed by a frog:

 Knock, knock, knock,
Who lives in the teremok?
It's me, the Fly, queen of the sky.
It's me the Mouse, who needs a new house.
Who are you?
I'm the Frog, from out of the bog.
Let's live together.

     The pattern continues, with each turn of the page adding a new animal and building on the length of the rhyme.  There is a duck, a fox, a wolf, a hair, and a pig.  And the all lived happily together until a bear came and there was no room for him.  He asked to stay on the roof and the other animals warned him that he was too heavy but he climbed up and squashed the house.  "Everybody barely escaped!"
     Knock, Knock Teremok! can be a fun read-aloud to use in the classroom.  It can be acted out or used to practice rhyming words (kids could add their own rhymes to go with each animal).  I need to add that there's definitely another layer that will escape elementary school kids, but that could be shown to middle-schoolers; as the animals move into the teremok, there's a very inconspicuous portrait of Lenin hanging inside the house. Also, the bear is a symbol of the Soviet Union.  The author/illustrator, Katya Arnold includes a note where she explains that she sees the story "as an allegory of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist ideal of disparate peoples living peacefully together."  Arnold's illustrations give a folksy feeling to the tale.

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