Mishka

Programming / Young audience

Do you know Mishka’s story?
It’s a very well known story in our country, which comes from a Russian tale. It has been adapted into French by Marie Colmont, and beautifully illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky.

Mishka is a little teddy bear like they used to make in the old days. Two buttons for the eyes, some pink cloth for the paw pads, a black woollen thread for the muzzle with the eternal smile. A teddy bear for small children, as there have been so many of them, to comfort children’s sorrows and help them face their fears.
Normally, Mishka should have had his teddy bear worn in all the places where her young mistress had cried.

But Mishka was not so lucky to be so loved. His young mistress, Elisabeth was a rich, temperamental, mean, unbearable little girl. She threw him away, hit him, tortured him so much and so much that one evening, when it had snowed so much, he took his little bear heart which normally feels nothing, he prayed and was able to come to life and …. pft, disappear in the night.

The slight round traces of his paws in the snow were quickly blown away by the winds – and Elisabeth will never be able to find him again.

Mishka sank into the forest, and truly by a miracle, began his young life as a real little bear cub.
He met the animals of the Russian forests: bears, wolves, foxes, owls, rabbits, birds, blackbirds and ravens.


He liked to feel the snow wet his paws.
He liked the morning wind and the sunlight rising in the sky.
He liked so much to be able to wander here and there, meeting the wonders of the world.
He tasted life – and he loved it, life.

Yet the nights were freezing and the animals were starving.
And yet, when he saw the lights in the houses in the distance, he remembered the warmth of the fire and the smells of the goulash cooking slowly, the cinnamon scenting the wine, the oranges enchanting the cakes, the honey dripping on the spoons.
But he knew that in these houses, so attractive, so welcoming, there were people with hard hearts who would only dream of locking him up.
So he didn’t regret this comfort and went deeper into the wild life of the great forest.

One evening, when the sky was purer than ever and you could see all the stars, Mishka met a reindeer all alone, pulling a heavily loaded sled.
The reindeer was tired, and his night would be so rough.
Mishka asked him what he had to do that was so important. He had to drop off packages in each of the men’s houses. Almost every house. The name and address were well written on the packet.
Mishka offered his help to the reindeer and the two of them left on that cold December night, putting the packages in small shoes tidily under a decorated tree.
That’s how Mishka discovered Christmas Eve. Each child had his own present, that was what this night was all about.

At the end of the night, when the sun was already starting to shine, there were no more bundles left in the sleigh.
But in one house there was a little boy.
His mother was poor – far too poor for Christmas – so the little boy had no present.

Mishka’s heart broke in two.
He looked at the little man – the house where there was almost nothing and the cold came in through the broken windows, the mother so thin and so sad, so sad.

Then Mishka gave up his freedom, wild life and joy.
He asked the reindeer to become a little teddy bear again.

He entered the house, lay down in the pierced shoes.

The tale leaves Mishka conscious enough to see the little boy’s wild joy – and the warm tears that flowed that day must have warmed his little bear heart.

And the teddy bear, in the end, really lives his teddy bear life, very loved, very pampered and drying all the tears of “his” little boy.

There’s no real moral to this story – it doesn’t need one. It is up to each “grown-up” to talk about this with the child, to talk about this comfort that imprisons us, to talk about freedom, to talk about love.

The story is beautiful and has of course been adapted into any genre you want – and a whole room of children crying their eyes out as Mishka cries, it’s a feeling that no one can forget.

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Yes yes, it’s getting cold in my house, I can see the snow that fell on the summits … so of course, I remember Mishka. A friend called me tonight to send me to see ‘a great show for little kids‘ – if it’s really great, I’ll talk about it tomorrow, and that will make two shows for little kids instead of one.

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