Neznaika ( _ru. Незнайка, from "не знаю", or "I don't know") is the famous anti-hero created by the Soviet children's writer Nikolai Nosov. In English, Neznaika's name has been translated as "Dunno" and "Know-Nothing", in Arabic "الجاهل" and in _ro. Habarnam.

Neznaika, recognized by his bright blue hat, canary-yellow trousers, orange shirt, and green tie, is the title character of Nosov's world-famous trilogy, "The Adventures of Neznaika and his Friends" (Приключения Незнайки и его друзей) (1954), "Neznaika in Sun City" (Незнайка в Солнечном городе) (1958), and "Neznaika on the Moon" (Незнайка на Луне) (1966). There have been several movie adaptations of the books.

Plot Summaries

The three fairy tale novels follow the adventures of the little fictional child-like people living in "Flower City" (Цветочный город). They are described to be sized like "medium cucumbers", a quality that has earned them the name "shorties" or "mites" (коротышки). In Nosov's universe, each shorty occupies his/her own niche in the community and is named accordingly. The "three apple tall" Smurfs of the Belgian illustrator Peyo are based on a similar concept. However, unlike in the world that Peyo had created, anything unrealistic in Nosov's universe, save his characters' small size, owes itself to science-fiction rather than fantasy or magic.

The Adventures of Neznaika and his Friends

In Flower City, Neznaika gets into heaps of trouble. First, he becomes convinced that the sun is falling and manages to scare half the town before Znaika, Neznaika's brainy antithesis (his name is derived from the Russian "знаю" or "I know") clears everything up. Then he proceeds to try music, art, and poetry, but his unorthodox endeavors only irritate his friends, and he is forced to quit. Next, ignoring the warnings of Vintik and Shpuntik, Neznaika crashes their car into the Cucumber River and ends up in the hospital. He then gets into a fight with his best friend Gun'ka for not ending his friendships with the girl-shorties Mushka and Knopochka.

Znaika proposes to build a hot air balloon and go on an adventure. He and his friends begin extracting rubber, weaving the basket, and making emergency parachutes out of dandelions. A large rubber balloon is then inflated, fastened to the basket, and filled with hot air. The parachutes and other supplies are loaded, and sixteen seats are accommodated for. Everyone helps with preparations except for Neznaika, who is too busy bossing everyone around and providing useless advice. The day of the departure comes, and Znaika, Neznaika, and fourteen other shorties come on board. Pul'ka takes with him his dog, Bul'ka. By this time, half the town still does not believe the balloon will be able to fly, but the balloon successfully rises off the ground, and all the shorties of Flower Town cheer. Gun'ka waves to Neznaika from the ground but Neznaika shuns him.

Neznaika in Sun City

After receiving a magic wand from a wizard, Neznaika, Knopochka, and Pachkulya wish for a car and go on a road trip to Sun City. During their journey, they see many technological marvels like futuristic cars, bizzare architecture, TV's that can communicate with you, computerized chess players, etc. They also run into some trouble in the city, particularly when Neznaika uses his magic wand to turn a Shorty into a donkey, and then turns 2 donkeys and a mule into Shorties.

Neznaika on the Moon

Znaika discovers that his moon rock creates a no gravity zone when it is combined with another metal. He uses this knowledge to build a rocket ship that will go to the moon. However Neznaika and Ponchik are not allowed to go. The night before the rocket launch, Neznaika and Ponchik sneak into the ship and accidentally launch the rocket.

When they arrive on the moon, Neznaika and Ponchik become separated and Neznaika falls through a cave and discovers a whole separate society of mites living inside the moon. However, unlike on Earth, these mites do not have "giant food". The moon society is a corrupt capitalistic state: the millionaires control all the factories and squander their money away on unnecessary luxuries, the police is violent, corrupt, and stupid, everyday citizens struggle to survive and live in rat infested barracks.

Neznaika gets thrown into jail for not having money to pay for his meal at a restaurant and is mistaken for a wanted criminal by the stupid police officers. In jail he meets Miga - a fast-talking schemer, and Kozlik - a poor, gentle worker. Upon getting released from jail, Miga introduces Kozlik and Neznaika to Julio - another con man, and the 4 decide to start a company selling stocks to raise money to get "giant seeds" from Neznaika's rocket ship and plant them on the moon.The stocks sell well and soon the 4 friends have lots of money. However some of the local millionaire businessmen are worried that giant food will mean that poor workers can get richer and the millionaires may lose money. Their leader, Sproots, convinces Miga and Julio to steal the money and run leaving Neznaika and Kozlik jobless and penniless.

Meanwhile, Ponchik finds the same cave and also goes inside the moon. However he quickly discovers salt and opens his own business making and selling it. He becomes a millionaire but then becomes bankrupt when the price of salt becomes too low. Then Ponchik becomes an average worker.

Neznaika and Kozlik work odd jobs but are still starving and living in poverty in a rat infested basement. Kozlik gets bit by a rat and becomes sick. Just then, Neznaika gets a job as a dog nanny for a rich woman and makes enough money for a doctor for Kozlik who slowly recovers, but the rich woman finds out that Neznaika took her dogs to the rat infested basement and fires him. Neznaika and Kozlik then end up living on the street. Since Kozlik has lost his hat and Neznaika lost his shoes they are breaking the law and get sent to Fool's Island which has a toxic gas that turns all the people there into sheep which are then sheared for their wool.

Later Neznaika's friends come to Moon with giant seeds, which results in elimination of poverty and establishment of a socialist-like economical system.


Flower City Dwellers

Named for its abundance of flowers, all streets are named after flowers as well. The Flower City is located by the Cucumber River, on the shore of which many cucumbers grow. Here boy-shorties and girl-shorties live together, but often have trouble getting along.
*Neznaika (Незнайка, from Russian "не знаю", "I don't know") - the title character of the trilogy and the most infamous personality in Flower City. As an anti-hero, this boy-shorty is both ignorant, lazy, rude, and conceited and at the same time curious, kind, enterprising, and unbelievably lucky. He is highly reminiscent of the popular Russian folk hero Ivan the Fool, a flawed young man who always manages to come out on top.
*Gun'ka (Гунька) - a boy-shorty, Neznaika's best friend
*Znaika (Знайка, from "знаю", "I know") - a boy-shorty scientist, the smartest of the boy-shorties, often adopts the leadership role
*Vintik (Винтик, or "little bolt") and Shpuntik (from "little peg") - boy-shorty mechanics
*Guslya (Гусля, from "гусли", or "gusli") - a boy-shorty musician
*Tyubik (Тюбик, or "tube") - a boy-shorty painter
*Knopochka (Кнопочка, or "little button") - a girl-shorty who becomes best friends with Neznaika
*Romashka (Ромашка, or "camomile") - a girl-shorty
*Toropyzhka (Торопыжка, from "торопиться", or "to hurry") - a boy-shorty who is always in a hurry
*Rasteryayka (Растеряйка, from "растерять", or "to lose") - a boy-shorty who always loses and forgets things
*Doctor Pilyulkin (Доктор Пилюлькин, from "пилюля", or "pill") - a boy-shorty physician
*Ponchik (Пончик, or "doughnut") - a very chubby boy-shorty who likes to eat sweets
*Siropchik (Сиропчик, or "little syrup") - a very chubby boy-shorty who likes to drink carbonated water with syrup
*Pul'ka (Пулька, from "пуля", "bullet") - a boy-shorty hunter
*Bul'ka (Булька, from "бульдог", "бультерьер", or "bulldog", "bull terrier") - Pul'ka's dog
*Tsvetik (Цветик, or "bloomer") - a boy-shorty poet
*Pachkulya Pyostrenky (Пачкуля Пёстренький, or "dirty and garishly spotted") - a boy-shorty who is always dirty and never surprised at anything
*Vorchyun (Ворчун, from "ворчать", "to grumble") - a boy-shorty who always grumbles and complains
*Molchyun (Молчун, from "молчать", "to be silent") - a boy-shorty who is always quiet
*Mushka (Мушка, from "муха", or "fly" [insect] ) - a girl-shorty
*Steklyashkin (Стекляшкин, from "стекляшка", or "piece of glass") - a boy-shorty astronomer
*Kapel'ka (Капелька, or "little drop") - a girl-shorty who cries when it rains

Green City Dwellers

Named for its abundance of trees, only girl-shorties live here.
*Medunitsa (Медуница, "lungwort") - a girl-shorty doctor, head of the Green City hospital
*Sineglazka (Синеглазка, from "синие глаза", "blue eyes") - a pretty blue-eyed girl-shorty
*Snezhinka (Снежинка, "snowflake") - a pretty fair-skinned girl-shorty
*Samotsvetik (Самоцветик, "self-bloomer") - a girl-shorty poet
*Zain'ka (Заинька, "little hare") and Belochka (from "little squirrel") - girl-shorties with animals embroidered on their dresses
*Galochka (Галочка, "little jackdaw") - a girl-shorty with long black hair
*Kubyshka (Кубышка, a kind of jar or water lily "Nymphaea lutea") - a chubby girl-shorty
*Kison'ka (Кисонька, "kitty") - a girl-shorty
*Solomka (Соломка, "little straw") - a smart girl-shorty who bred watermelons as well as other fruit

Kite City Dwellers

Named for its abundance of decorative kites, only boy-shorties live here.
*Gvozdik (Гвоздик, "little nail" [the metal kind] ) - a boy-shorty who makes a lot of trouble
*Bublik (Бублик, "bagel") - a boy-shorty who drives a car
*Shurupchik (Шурупчик, "little screw") - a boy-shorty inventor
*Smekaylo (Смекайло, from "смекать", "to grasp quickly") - a pretentious boy-shorty writer

un City Dwellers

Named for its perpetually sunny weather, it is a shorty utopia noted for its incredible technological advances.
*Kalachik (Калачик, sort of a larger bagel) - a boy-shorty farming equipment operator
*Listik (Листик, "small sheet of paper") - a boy-shorty who loves to read and whom Neznaika magically turned into a donkey
*Bukovka (Буковка, "little letter" [of the alphabet] ) - a girl-shorty who loves to read, Listik's best friend
*Lilia (Лилия, "lily") - a girl-shorty, director of hotel Malvazia
*Pegasik (Пегасик, "small Pegasus"), Brykun (Брыкун, from "брыкаться", "to kick"), and Kaligula (Калигула, "Caligula") - two donkeys and a mule whom Neznaika magically turned into boy-shorties
*Chubchik (Чубчик, "forelock")- a boy-shorty gardener
*Yorshik (Ёршик, "little ruff") - a boy-shorty, leader of the mass of passerby that Pegasik and Neznaika sprayed with water
*Svistul'kin (Свистулькин, from "свистулька", "clay whistle") and Karaul'kin (Караулькин, from "to be on watch") - boy-shorty policemen
*Kubik (Кубик, "block, brick, little cube") - a boy-shorty architect
*Kl'opka (Клёпка) - a boy-shorty driver
*Fuksia (Фуксия, "fuchsia") and Sel'odochka (Селёдочка, "small herring") - girl-shorty scientists
*Nitochka (Ниточка, "little thread") - a girl-shorty modeller
*Karasik (Карасик, "little crucian") - a boy-shorty clothing factory worker and actor
*Igolochka (Иголочка, "little needle") - a girl-shorty clothing factory worker

Moon Dwellers

Names of Moon dwellers and Moon cities resemble English, German, Italian and Spanish words amalgamated with Russian roots, e.g. Davilon (from "давить" - to suppress and "Вавилон" - Babylon), Grabenberg (from "грабить" - to rob and "...emberg" - a typical German-like toponym), Brekhenville (from "брехать" - to lie or to bark (slang) and "...ville" - typical French-like toponym) etc.

* Sproots (from "спрут" - a giant octopus)
* Scooperfield (Скуперфильд, an amalgamated word from "скупой" - greedy and the English surname Copperfield)
* Zhading (Жадинг, from жадина - "greedy person")

Police and justice:
* Figl (Фигль) - a street patrol
* Migl (Мигль) - an investigator
* Drigl (Дригль) - a jailer
* Wrigl (Вригль, an amalgamated word from "врать" - to lie and the English surname Wrigley) - a judge

* Miga (Мига, from миг - a brief instant, or "мигать" - "to blink")
* Zhulio (Жулио, an amalgamated word from "жулик" - a swindler, cheater, and a name Julio)
* Krabs (Крабс, from краб - "crab") - a servant of Sproots
* Vihor (Вихор, "forelock")
* Striga (Стрига, from "стриженный" - cropped)

Other citizens:
* Kozlik (Козлик - a little goat) - a naive jobless Moon dweller who quickly becomes Neznaika's friend
* Seden'kiy (Седенький, from седой - "grey-haired")

* Kolosok (Колосок, "little ear [f.e. of rye] )


*Tsirkul (Циркуль, from "compass") - a lanky and very renowned traveling bicyclist from the city of Katigoroshkin (Катигорошкин)
*Wizard (Bолшебник) - gave Neznaika a magic wand

Themes & Issues

An important characteristic of the Neznaika trilogy is its heavily didactic nature. Nosov describes this as an effort to teach "honesty, bravery, camaraderie, willpower, and persistence" and discourage "jealousy, cowardice, mendacity, arrogance, and effrontery." Strong political undertones are also present. In addition to general egalitarianism and feminism, communist tendencies dominate the works. The first book takes the reader into a typical Soviet-like town, the second into a communist utopia, and the third into a capitalistic satire . Nosov's captivating and humorous literary style has made his ideologies accessible to children and adults alike.


* Neznaika in the Sun City, a 1977 movie.
* Neznaika from Our Neighborhood, a 1983 movie.
* Neznaika on the Moon, a 1997 movie.
* Neznaika on the Moon 2, a 1999 sequel to the 1997 movie.
* Neznaika and Barrabass, a 2004 movie that combines two previously unrelated characters into an original story.

External links

*Internet Movie Database:
** [ 1977 film]
** [ 1983 film]
** [ 1997 film]
** [ 1999 film]
** [ 2004 film]
* [ Nikolai Nosov - "The adventures of Dunno and his friends"] (FULL ENGLISH TEXT - translated by Margaret Wettlin)
* [ Nikolai Nosov - "Aventurile lui Habarnam şi ale prietenilor săi"] Ro icon
* [ A 1996 article "In memoriam": Nikolay Nosov (1908-1976)] Ru icon
* [ Nikolai Nosov Forever, Russian Journal] En icon

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