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MARUSHKA'S EGG by Elsa Okon Rael


by Elsa Okon Rael & illustrated by Joanna Wezyk

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1993
ISBN: 0-02-775655-6
Publisher: Four Winds/MacMillan

 Sent to buy an egg for her mother's Easter bread, Marushka is entranced by the beautifully decorated one displayed by a woman in the market. But when Marushka pays, she finds herself inside the egg, in bondage to the woman, now revealed as Baba Yaga. Dutifully cooking and cleaning, Marushka makes friends with the witch's three animals and poses serious questions: What makes a person cruel or selfish? Baba Yaga answers truly, but exacts a penalty: each response ages Marushka a year. The witch doesn't reform, as Marushka hoped; still, with wit, luck, and a bit of magic, she and the animals escape. Rael draws extensively on Eastern European folklore to fashion her lively tale and embellish it with colorful detail, though Marushka's questions--a promising contemporary touch--aren't well integrated in the outcome. Polish-born Wezyk's illustrations, rich in decorative detail, sparkle with light and color in a manner reminiscent of Elisa Kleven's Abuela (1991), though they are more freely rendered; Baba Yaga is satisfyingly ugly without being too scary. Entertaining and attractive. (Young reader/Picture book. 5-9)