A PERFECT PORK STEW by Paul Brett Johnson


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Johnson (Farmers 'Market, 1997, etc.) concocts his own silly story from the elements of Russian folktales. Baba Yaga is a witch who gets up on the wrong side of the bed, which skewers events for the rest of the day. First she burns the creature she's toasting for breakfast; next she breaks her spectacles. When she sees Ivan pushing a wheelbarrow full of dirt up the road, her weak eyesight makes her think she sees a pig instead of a pile of clods. Longing for pork stew, she tries to trick Ivan into trading the ""pig"" for a magic turnip. When her stew tastes like the dirt it is, Ivan suggests adding a turnip. For his turnip, she trades with Ivan again, this time giving him a cabbage. And so it goes, until Ivan finally acquires a real pig, while Baba Yaga gets a belly ache, with burps that taste of soil. Johnson's tale entertains, while his fuzzy pastel drawings keep the wart-nosed witch from being too scary, and place the story in a Russia of onion-dome churches and countryside dachas.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Orchard