“Che-bu-rash-ka” – what a cute word! You may be curious as to what it is and what does it mean? What is the story about Cheburashka?
It is a famous character in Soviet Union children’s literature. It originated from a story written by Eduard Uspensky in 1966 and exactly “Cheburashka” means “Topple” in English.
The story about Cheburashka
Cheburashka, the iconic Russian cartoon, has gained popularity since its story was written. The cartoon is a funny creature that lives in a tropical forest. After getting into a crate of oranges, the cartoon over-eats and then falls asleep in the crate. This crate is then transported to a city in Russia, which is not quite known. However, the city is believed to be Moscow because this is the stage for the rest of the story.
The crate is delivered to a store, where the manager gets puzzled on opening the crate. He is shocked at the realization that Cheburashka is in the crate. The cartoon is taken out and seated on the table, its paws being very numb after being in the crate for such a long time. It falls from the table, to a chair next to the table and then to the floor. The manager of the store gets inspiration from this fall to name the cartoon Cheburashka. This comes from “cheburakhnulsya” – a Russian slung word for “tumbled”.
Cheburashka is male and is about the size of a 5 year old child. It resembles a bear and has huge ears which are round in shape. The zoo turns him down because he is not known to science, but ends up being hired as a display item for a factory that sells refurbished goods. A phone-booth plays shelter to Cheburashka during this time while Gena, a friendly crocodile, becomes his friend. Gena plays the accordion and wears a hat, a bow tie and a coat. He walks on his hind legs and works in a zoo.
In total there are 4 episodes of the cartoon about Cheburashka and Gena the Crocodile. All of them you can see and watch in English on this page.
Episode 1 – “Gena the Crocodile”.
Episode 2 – “Cheburashka” in English.
Episode 3 – “Shapoklyak”.
Episode 4 – “Cheburashka goes to school”.
Cheburashka doll today
Cheburashka is now a licensed product in the market, common with Russian cartoons. A cheburashka doll is a popular toy used in plays or during game-time by Russian children. He is also a popular character in children’s joke books as he is the subject of many Russian jokes.
The character has acquired national acknowledgement in Russia and it has been used on several occasions as a mascot for Russian teams participating in Olympic Games. It was used as an official mascot for the Russian teams in the 2004 (Athens, Greece), 2008 (Beijing, China) Summer Olympics and 2006 (Turin, Italy), 2010 (Vancouver, Canada) Winter Olympic Games.
In all the various Olympic Games, Cheburashka was used in different colours. In Italy he had white fur, it had blue fur in Canada, while in China, red fur.
Cheburashka doll also gained popularity outside of Russia. In Japan for instance, he became very popular and was used in the production of various animated films which made it big in cinemas.
Cheburashka has completely taken over the Russian sporting and entertainment scenes. He’s now grown to form a key part of the Russian literature and history.
Don’t forget to buy one of the Cheburashka dolls if you visiting Russia. It’s a nice souvenir to bring home as a memory of our country and its culture.