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Literature / Adventures of Dunno

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One of the covers of the first book
Adventures of Dunno is a Soviet trilogy of children's novels by Nikolay Nosov, about a childlike people of liliputians, called Mites, living in a Ghibli Hills - esque Mouse World. It combines didacticism, teaching kids to be friendly, honest and persistent, with fun adventures, humour and amazement. Since it's a Soviet work, it carries strong themes of egalitarianism, enlightenment and optimism without being too anvilicious about it.

The Mites are a tiny people, sized like a small cucumber, for whom grass looks like forest and mushrooms like trees, living unknown to humans in an unspecified place on Earth. The protagonist, Dunno (Russian: Neznayka, from "I don't know") is not the sharpest knife in the Mites' drawer, and gets into heaps of trouble. However, he's a Weirdness Magnet and, despite being ignorant, lazy and rude, succeeds by virtue of his curiosity, kindness and luck. In the first novel, he travels around Mite-land and gets into general wacky hijinks; in the second novel, he meets a wizard Mite who gives him a magical wand that grants wishes, and uses it to have fun, disrupting the fragile utopian society of the Sun City, which he visits. In the third novel, he travels to the Moon, where a society of capitalist Mites lives in a Wretched Hive, ruled by the only real villains in the franchise.


Other Mites, Dunno's friends, rivals and acquaintances, also have names that conform to their personalities. Doono ("Do know") is an Omnidisciplinary Scientist, Bendum and Twistum are engineers, Roly-Poly is a Big Eater, Dr.Pillman is a physician, Dirty Garish is a Pig Pen (and unflappable), Glass Eye is an astronomer, and Wizard is a wizard.

There have been several movie adaptations of the books.The capitalist Lunar Mites have names that resemble Western ones, with English, French or Spanish suffixes which makes it a little hard to translate and preserve the difference between the Russian-named Earth Mites and the "Foreign" Lunar Mites like Mr.Squids, Cheatio and Niggardfield. This, however, only applies to the villains; the sympathetic, honest, working-class Lunar Mites, like the worker Buckgoat and the farmer Ear o'Wheat, are called the same as Earth Mites.


Adventures Of Dunno books are:

  • The Adventures of Dunno and his Friends (1954)
  • Dunno in Sun City (1958)
  • Dunno on the Moon (1966).


  • Applied Phlebotinum: The lunar chrystal, which can produce the anti-gravity field.
  • Artificial Gravity: The piece of lunar rock (dubbed "lunite") that Doono brought back from the Moon on his first trip turns out to be capable of producing an anti-gravity field when in close proximity to a magnet. Doono immediately starts planning a second expedition to get more lunite for cheap space exploration, building a big, luxurious rocket with a low-thrust engine that is powered by the lunite-and-magnet field.
  • Ascended Extra: Dirty Garish in Dunno in Sun City.
  • Baleful Polymorph: In Dunno in Sun City, Dunno gets ahold of a magic wand and, later, turns a know-it-all Sun City resident into a donkey in a fit of anger. He later tries to fix it but only succeeds in turning three actual donkeys escaped from a zoo into humans... who then proceed to act in a very uncivilized manner.
  • Big Bad: Mr. Squids in Dunno on the Moon, the only book in the trilogy featuring real villains.
  • Broken Aesop: How does Dunno propose to solve the problem of world hunger on the Moon? By introducing seeds from Earth that will grow into gigantic (for Mites) fruits and vegetables compared to the more proportionate plants on the Moon. This is all well and good, but we don't have any seeds for giant plants to solve our problems in Real Life.
  • Chew Toy: In the chapters centered on Mr.Niggardfield's adventures, he just goes from one humiliation to another.
  • Cool Car: Bendum and Twistum build a car powered by carbonated water. It even has a hose for the driver to take a drink from the tank. In the second novel, Dunno gets himself one with a wave of a wand, literally.
  • Darker and Edgier: Dunno on the Moon comparing to the first two books.
  • Dirty Cop: Every Lunar cop. Sometimes they don't even try to hide that.
  • Flying Car: In the second novel, Dunno is going fast in his car only to see that the narrow bridge ahead is blocked, and he's not going to stop in time. With a wave of his wand, he makes the car fly.
  • Hollow Moon: The third novel reveals that the Moon is actually hollow with a tiny Earth inside it populated by Mites. Somehow, they have the illusion of the Sun and suffer no ill effects. The main difference is that all flora on the small Earth is proportional to the Mites. While lacking space travel, they have detectors advanced enough not just to know they are inside a planetoid, but to determine the existence of the large Earth.
  • Magic Wand: Dunno gets one in the second novel after doing three good deeds in a row without expecting anything in return (lets a dog off its leash on a hot day, keeps the dog from attacking an old man, asks the old man if he's ok). He previously tries to do that with the goal of obtaining the wand but fails because he was, well, expecting to get the wand. However, the Wizard who gives him the wand takes it away after Dunno performs three bad deeds with it (even though the second one was an attempt to fix the first mistake).
  • Nice Hat: Dunno's large, sky blue hat.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: In Dunno on the Moon, Miga and Cheatio are partners in crime. But when Cheatio is knocked down by Mr.Niggardfield, Miga simple runs away with all their money, leaving Cheatio unconscious in the forest.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Doono, the complete opposite of Dunno. Unlike Dunno, Doono likes to think before doing anything. In the third novel, he has just returned from the first Lunar expedition and is contemplating theories on the formation of Lunar craters.
  • Pet the Dog: Mr. Niggardfield's love to animals is the first sign of his future Heel–Face Turn.
  • Reality Ensues: In the third novel, Doono builds a spacious rocket powered by lunite-generated Artificial Gravity and requiring fairly little fuel for thrust. However, Dunno and Roly-Poly, who have not been selected for the journey to the Moon, sneak aboard the night before the launch and accidentally launch the rocket. The next day, after realizing what happened, Doono starts building another rocket to rescue the foolish Mites. This rocket, without the benefit of lunite, is built with Spartan accomodations and a far smaller crew with most of the space devoted to rocket fuel. It's still a single-stage Retro Rocket, though.
  • Rule of Three: In the second novel, Dunno's friend (and possible Love Interest) tells him that he can get a magic wand if he does three good deeds in a row without expecting anything in return. Naturally, Dunno goes out of his way to do good things only to either screw it up with a bad deed or by doing all that for a magic wand. He finally succeeds after giving up and helping an old man, who turns out to be the Wizard. The Wizard gives him a wand but warns him that he will lose it if he does three bad deeds. Given that this is Dunno we're talking about, you can guess how it turns out.
  • Salt Solution: Upon first arriving to the Little Earth, Roly-Poly washes up on a beach. There, he finds sea salt deposits and figures out what it is by licking it. He quickly scrapes some off and puts it in his pockets for later. At a restaurant, he tries his meal and, finding it far too bland, sprinkles it with some of the salt. The rest of the patrons and the restaurant staff are curious. He sells all the salt in his pockets, which turns out to be a big hit for seasoning food, and has a bright idea. He makes enough money scraping and selling salt to build a small factory and hiring workers to do it for him. However, then the rich guys that actually own the beaches come home and quickly figure out what's going on. They fence off the beaches and build their own larger salt factories, pushing Roly-Poly out.
  • There Are No Good Executives: Mr. Squids is arguably the Big Bad of Dunno on the Moon, and the rest of Lunar oligarchs are no better. Mr. Niggardfield does make a Heel–Face Turn, but only after he loses his property. The only capitalist who gets anything good said about him, is a minor character, who owns a network of flophouses, and even then, it's only by comparison.
  • The Scrooge: Mr.Niggardfield. And just like the Trope Namer himself, he makes a Heel–Face Turn in the last chapters.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Doono to Dunno, and Professor Zvyozdochkin to Doono.
  • Urban Legend: Boris Yeltsin is said to have sworn on Dunno on the Moon during his first inauguration (the actual Constitution of the Russian Federarion was too thin and unassuming, so it was decided to substitute a thicker book for the inauguration to be more visually impressive). Thus, the The New Russia became a capitalist dystopia, not unlike the one described in the book.
  • Wretched Hive: The Little Earth under the surface of the Moon (the Moon turns out to be hollow). In contrast to the Earth Mites, the Lunar Mites are, for the most part, greedy and selfish. This is the first book to feature the concept of money, and Dunno nearly gets arrested for trying to leave a restaurant without paying (Earth Mites don't use money).


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