From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1-Babushka is so obsessive about cleanliness that she tells an angel who comes heralding Jesus's birth that she'll have to wipe her feet. When the three kings invite her to join them, she says she does not have time. "What about the washing up?" she asks. She finally decides to make the journey alone and packs some gifts for the baby, which she gives away to needy folks along the way. When she realizes that she's empty-handed and starts to return home, she hears someone call her name. It's Mary welcoming her into the stable, and Babushka finds the baby surrounded by all of her gifts. She decides to hold him instead of tidying up. Based on a Russian folktale, this version is charmingly told but it is hard to see how Babushka's cleaning mania is connected to her generosity, or what lesson she is supposed to have learned at the end. The richly colored, stylized acrylic paintings feature Russian-style clothing and buildings as well as palm and fig trees. An attractive but flawed retelling.-E. M.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
K-Gr. 3. Babushka is too busy to accompany the three kings on their way to see the Christ child. Later an angel appears in her dream, singing about "a baby born in a stable, with nothing but a swaddling cloth to wrap him in." Troubled by the image, Babushka sets out to find the child, bringing a warm shawl and other presents. Along the way, she meets several people in need and generously gives away her gifts. Imagine her surprise when she reaches the stable and sees the baby wrapped in her shawl with the other presents nearby. Mary's simple explanation is the key to the story: "Everything you gave with love, you gave to my son, also." This is a departure from the traditional Russian folktale, in which Babushka becomes a Santa Claus-like figure, never finding the baby she seeks but leaving presents for other children. Fatus' acrylic illustrations burst with interesting details, patterns, and textures. Their figures resemble miniature dolls with such exaggerated features as heavily lashed almond eyes set in perfectly round heads. A lovely Christmas story with a wonderful message about the joys of selfless giving. Lauren PetersonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved