The children's book Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth depicts a Halloween in suburban America, with several unexplained figures trick-or-treating in the background. Among them are these two children:

Two trick-or-treating children.  On left, a boy dressed in black tie formal wear with medals and ribbons on his chest.  On right, a child dressed in what appears to be a traditional Russian costume of high quality.

This image seems familiar to me. I thought at first that it might be a pastiche of either a depiction of Romanov children or one of Produkin-Gorsky's photographs. But a Google image search came up dry. I also checked for images of Leo Tolstoy's children, because Muth had previously adapted "The Three Questions" to a children's book, but I found only photos of them in their adulthood.

Is this based on a historic painting or photograph? Or is it just from Muth's imagination?

  • 1
    Does the actual illustration in the book appear to be a photograph, or a painting? I ask because details can become blurry when a small section of a photograph is enlarged. Is the illustrator Muth or someone else?
    – Spencer
    Oct 16, 2020 at 14:21
  • @Spencer It's painted. Muth is both the author and the illustrator.
    – Kevin Troy
    Oct 16, 2020 at 17:04
  • Thanks. Please edit your question to work that information in.
    – Spencer
    Oct 16, 2020 at 17:18
  • Also, since the author is still alive, you might get a definitive answer by asking him directly.
    – Spencer
    Oct 16, 2020 at 17:22


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