BABA YAGA AND VASILISA THE BRAVE

A complex and eventful Russian variant of the Cinderella story in which the stepmother sends the girl to the witch's house, where she performs seemingly impossible tasks with the help of a magical doll left her by her mother. In the tradition of Perrault, Mayer adopts a courtly tone, producing a graceful narrative that's appropriate to the opulent format here. Supplemented by elegantly embellished initials and ornamental borders, Craft's precise, rather static paintings derive their drama from the forest's dark shadows and the menacing details of Baba Yaga's visage and surroundings. The result is far less animated than Winthrop's version (Vasilissa the Beautiful, 1991, illustrated by Alexander Koshkin); still, a satisfactory addition. (Folklore/Picture book. 5-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-08500-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1994

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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ELIZABETI'S DOLL

Charmed by her new baby brother, Elizabeti decides that she wants a baby of her own; she picks up a smooth rock, names it Eva and washes, feeds, and changes her, and carries her about in her cloth kanga. Hale dresses Elizabeti and her family in modern, brightly patterned clothing that practically glows against the earth-toned, sketchily defined Tanzanian village in which this is set. Although Eva appears a bit too large for Elizabeti to handle as easily as she does, the illustrations reflect the story’s simplicity; accompanied by an attentive hen, Elizabeti follows her indulgent mother about, mimicking each nurturing activity. The object of Elizabeti’s affection may be peculiar, but the love itself is real. Later, she rescues Eva from the fire pit, tenderly cleans her, then cradles the stone until she—Elizabeti—falls asleep. Stuve-Bodeen’s debut is quirky but believable, lightly dusted with cultural detail, and features universal emotions in an unusual setting. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-880000-70-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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