BABA YAGA AND THE WISE DOLL by Hiawyn Oram

BABA YAGA AND THE WISE DOLL

adapted by , illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 10

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Superb artwork enhances this offbeat, minimalist retelling of the old Russian folktale in which Baba Yaga the witch is outwitted by an innocent little girl, with the help of a magic doll bequeathed to her by her now-dead mother. The outlines of the tale are familiar enough: the hapless, persecuted child, here named Too Nice, driven into the forest by her cruel stepsisters, Horrid and Too Horrid; the witch's house on chicken legs; the impossible tasks that are accomplished with the aid of the magic doll; the child's return with one of Baba Yaga's possessions (here a predatory toad) that finishes off Too Nice's tormentors. Some of the more colorful details of other versions are lacking here, and Baba Yaga has more bark than bite; when Too Nice passes the final test, Baba Yaga dances elatedly, less a mortal menace than a therapist who has practiced tough love. Brown's illustrations add psychological depth to the tale, with the barely visible figure of Too Nice's dead mother embracing her daughter on the front cover, the ominous black endpapers, the depiction of Too Nice's siblings as carbon copies of her; the caricature of housewifery in Baba Yaga's scraggly broom, her sloshing cauldron, and the rows of preserve jars holding ingredients for ghastly stews. Particularly striking are the scenes where the doll's shadow, hugely magnified by the angle of the light, completes Baba Yaga's impossible tasks. It's not particularly ``Russian'' in style, but it is excellent witchy stuff. (Picture book/folklore. 6- 10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-525-45947-2
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1998




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