Bread Factory No. 3
After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, children’s books were considered important vehicles for transmitting Soviet ideology to the younger generations. Such literature sought not only to provide children with the straightforward ability to read and write, but also to reinforce a commitment of active involvement in constructing the Communist state. While pre-Revolutionary children’s literature consisted primarily of fairy tales and legends, new genres emerged that aligned better with the post-Revolutionary goals of the Soviet state. One of these new genres was the children-oriented production book, which focused on themes including modernization, science and technology, construction and urbanization, and the conquest of nature.
Published in 1931, the children’s book Bread Factory No. 3 by the author-artists Olga Deineko and Nikolai Troshin is a classic example of this new production-focused genre. Bread Factory No. 3 details the entire process of bread production in a large Soviet industrial factory in Russia. The book starts with a memorable illustration of a bread factory bustling and operating in the night hours as the city sleeps. The readers are taken on a journey through the many machines and workers operating in the factory. We see bins full of flour, dough falling into funnels, buns on a conveyor belt, and finally, after a night’s hard work, bread being delivered by trucks to bakeries for consumers. Throughout the book, there is a prominent emphasis on the power and perfection of machines, in addition to praise of the workers’ discipline and affirmation of their work’s importance. Interestingly, the illustrations depict the workers impersonally, in identical white uniforms and without distinctive facial features. This focus on the factory as a whole, rather than individual contributions, further glorifies the Soviet ideal of collective labor.
The authors of the book - Olga Deineko and her husband Nikolai Troshin - are also the illustrators. Together, they generated a large collection of children’s books on industrial topics, aimed at educating the younger generation of Soviet citizens. During the time of their works, many publishing houses would organize business trips for their artists to industrial centers. The couple actively participated in these trips, sketching the drawings for their production books directly at the factories during their visits. In many of their production books, Deineko and Troshin present a common pattern. Similar to in the Bread Factory No.3, How Cotton Becomes Calico takes us from the factory’s exterior to its inside operations, where workers and machines interact to progressively mold the starting material into its final finished form - bread on the kitchen table or colorful clothing on people. Furthermore, we see parallels in Bread Factory No.3 to the children’s book About How Chocolate Got to the Mossel’prom, which depicts the diligent workers and powerful machinery in the production of chocolate candy that is sold at the Mossel’prom building in Moscow.
One unique feature of Bread Factory No. 3 is the impressive fold out on pages 7-10 which highlights the abundance of bread produced in the factory, suggesting a sense of plenty in the Soviet state. During a time of famine, this message of abundance was likely uplifting and inspiring. Moreover, the distinctive fold out in the book operates similarly to the interactive fold outs in the magazine USSR in Construction, for which Nikolai Troshin served as the chief artist and designer.
Children’s World Growing Up in Russia, 1890-1991 by Catriona Kelly
Mara Muslea, Lillian Xu, Gregory Wall, Julius Foo (SLA 221, 2019)