The name of Evgenii Rachev is inseparable from folktales especially those
where animals are the chief protagonists.
"What I wanted was to draw fairy beings which looked very much like animals
but at the same time had some human traits.
That was the greatest challenge".
Rachev created a whole world of inimitable fairy tale animals.
The animals were instantly recognisable
but had human facial expression, gestures and clothes helping to understand not only the fairy tale's plot
but also its gist.
Now it is hardly believable
but when Rachev brought his illustrations to the publishers they were very confused.
All these strange pictures with animals which resembled humans.
Nobody drew in such an unusual way!
It took the publishers almost a year to decide to print a book with Rachev's illustrations.
It happened in the late 1940s.
But when the books with his illustrations were published the sold like hot cakes.
Fantasy, creativity, expressiveness of fairy tale heroes,
ability to penetrate into folk culture, humour, kindness emanating from Rachev's drawings
together with uncontestable high graphic artistry - all this provoked a keen interest of adults
and children's love.
Evgenii Rachev was born in Tomsk in Siberia.
The boy lost his father in early childhood.
His mother was a dentist.
Rachev spent his childhood with his grandmother who was living in a village.
He remembered Siberia as a fantastic land.
Black grouses sitting pompously on fir branches in the evenings...
Fish and wild ducks swarming the lakes...
No end to mushrooms and berries in summer...
But when the boy was 14 years old his grandmother died.
He decided to go to his mother who at that time lived in Novorosiisk.
It took him three month to get there through Russia ravaged by the revolution.
At the seaport Rachev found the employment of stevedore but his calling was painting.
So he left for Krasnodar and enrolled in artistic secondary school.
The level of instruction there at that time was really very high
because many teachers came from Moscow or Petersburg finding rescue from famine.
Later on he pursued his education at the Kiev Institute of Arts as graphic painter.
Soon afterwards different publishing houses started to order his drawings.
Rachev specialized in children's book illustration.
In 1935 he received an invitation from the State Publishing House for Children (Detgiz) in Moscow
and lived in the city for the rest of his life except for the years from 1941 to 1945
when he like so many of his compatriots was sent to the front
where he fought and served as a painter in a front-line paper.
One can say that Rachev was lucky in his artistic career.
Books with his illustrations were printed in Russia and abroad.
His works were shown at different exhibitions.
Some of them make part of museum collections.
Almost every book illustrated by Rachev received either domestic or international award for children's books.
For his creative work Rachev was bestowed with the titles of the National Artist of the Russian Federation,
Honoured Arts Worker of the Russian Federation.
He was also awarded the Russian State Award.
Realising the great importance of children's books
Evgenii Rachev worked for almost 20 years as the chief artist at the Moscow publishing house "Malysh"
creating favourable conditions for artists' productive work there.
In fact, Rachev devoted his whole life to illustrating children's books.
And he never regretted it.
"It's an exciting job," he said.