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The Magic Nesting Doll Hardcover – September 1, 2000

4.8 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Opulent oil paintings, as lushly colored and intricately detailed as a Russian lacquer box, set the stage for this original folktale. As Katya's grandmother lies dying, she bequeaths Katya a magic matryoshka, or Russian nesting doll, and tells her that she may open it three times in an hour of need. The girl sets out to make her way in the world and soon arrives in a city under a wicked spell: "It is always winter without thaw, night without moon, and dark without dawn," an innkeeper explains. Worse, the handsome young Tsarevitch has been turned into living ice. With the help of her nesting doll, which releases first a bear, then a wolf and finally a firebird, Katya is able to break the enchantment, give the conniving Grand Vizier a taste of his own frosty medicine, and find true love. Ogburn's (The Jukebox Man) assured storytelling memorably joins together classic fairy-tale elements with Slavic imagery; her tale reads like one already tested by time. Long (The Mightiest Heart) weaves a kind of visual magic in a series of darkly lavish scenes. Her paintings simultaneously recall ornate tapestries, Russian icon art and the romantic elegance of Trina Schart Hyman. All ages. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4-An outstanding literary fairy tale that effectively captures the drama and splendor of traditional Russian folklore. Katya is given a magical nesting doll by her dying grandmother but is told that she can only use its magic three times. After entering a land of eternal winter, the young woman discovers a prince who has been turned into "living ice" through an enchantment. Aided in turn by a bear, wolf, and firebird that appear from inside the doll, Katya is able to restore the prince to his former self and destroy the villainous Grand Vizier. Needless to say, she and the prince live happily ever after. While the writing is filled with description and poetic images, it is the stunning full-page artwork that steals the show. Created using oil paints on paper primed with gesso, the illustrations are alive with detail and reminiscent of the miniaturist style used in Russian decorative items such as lacquered boxes, pins, and some nesting dolls. The palette reinforces the plot with black, blue, and purple gradually giving way to red, gold, and white. The page layout and design are also outstanding. This accessible, gorgeous title will undoubtedly pique children's interest in Russian folklore and nesting dolls. Becky Hickox Ayres's Matreshka (Doubleday, 1992; o.p.) and Corinne Demas Bliss's The Littlest Matryoshka (Hyperion, 1999) also feature the dolls in magical or anthropomorphic roles.
Denise Anton Wright, Alliance Library System, Bloomington, IL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 550L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books; 1st edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803724144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803724143
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.4 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Writer Jacqueline K. Ogburn recently received her 15-minutes of fame when Daniel Pinkwater read the text of her most recent book, The Bake Shop Ghost, on the Weekend Edition - Saturday program on National Public Radio. "Delicious" said Daniel Pinkwater. "It's a yummy book."

Because of the broadcast, Ms. Ogburn was contacted by composer Jonathan Schwabe about turning the story into a musical. The two collaborated on the project and the play premiered at the Maud Powell Music Festival in June 2007.

The book was also made into an independent short film by Lorette Bayle and is being shown at film festivals, both nationally and internationally. The Bake Shop Ghost film stars Kathryn Joosten as the ghost of Cora Lee Merriweather and Mary Anne Jeanne Baptiste as Ann Washington. It premiered at the Seattle Film Festival in May 2009.

A North Carolina native, Ms. Ogburn received a bachelor's degrees in English and Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. For ten years, she worked in New York book publishing, primarily as a children's book editor. She is the author of eight picture books. Her previous book, The Magic Nesting Doll, received a starred review from "Publishers' Weekly" and has been translated into Greek and Korean.

In addition to her writing, Ms. Ogburn worked as a speech writer and public affairs specialist for the NC Department of Cultural Resources and was president of a small non-profit press. She has also taught writing at several venues, including the Friday Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. She currently works for the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University in the Communications Office.

The Bake Shop Ghost combines her passion for stories and dessert. Her family's favorite recipe for birthday cake is the one included in the book. Ms. Ogburn, her husband and two daughters live in North Carolina, in an 85-year-old bungalow with too many books and a deaf cat.

Her website is at www.wincbooks.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In Sleeping Beauty, the young woman is enchanted and lies in a death-like sleep until awakened by love's first kiss. In The Magic Nesting Doll, it is the Russian prince, the Tsarevitch, instead who has been charmed into an icy block by his uncle, the Grand Vizier. A peasant girl, Katya, hears of his fate and moves Heaven and Earth to save him. If you love the story of Sleeping Beauty, you will, if you are like me, love this book as well.
Katya has been reared by her grandmother at the edge of the forest. Before she dies, Katya's grandmother gives her a nesting doll, a matryoshka, and tells Katya the doll has magic powers. "If your need is great, open the doll and help will come." Katya can only do this three times, however. "After that, the magic will be gone." She is told though, "Keep the doll and remember me."
Soon after her grandmother dies, Katya finds that the world is gripped by an icy hand. The sun, moon, and stars are all gone. An innkeeper tells her about the frozen Prince, and she makes her way to his side. The Grand Vizier does his best to deflect Katya, but with the help of her doll, Katyia is unstoppable.
I appreciate stories like this one because they take familiar fairy tales of human loss and love, and allow females to play the heroine's role. In too many of our classic stories, the males are the "good guys" and some woman is portrayed as the source of evil. In real life, people of both sexes probably have equal potential for good and questionable behavior. A story like this one makes that point without being too obvious about it.
The book also rings deep within me like the allegories of tales about spring, and the reawakening of the Earth.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
My mother got this book and another one also illustrated by Laurel Long (The Mightiest Heart by Lynn Cullen) for my son and daughter for Christmas. The very first thing I noticed was the beautiful, BEAUTIFUL artwork. It's definitely a picture book worth having for the *pictures*! :-)
The story itself is also excellent. It is good bedtime story length. The plot is a wonderful Sleeping Beauty fairy tale with a female heroine. Katya swears to break the evil spell that the Grand Vizier has cast on the Tsarevitch, and she succeeds with the help of the magic nesting dolls (matryoshka) her dying grandmother left her.
My children and I have really enjoyed this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the most exquisitely illustrated and delightfully magical book for children I have ever read. My daughter just gazes at the pictures, and she'll never let me read "just a few pages". We always have to read the entire book, and each and every time she is as enchanted as the first time we read it together. This is the kind of story I wish my mother could have read to me as a child. And I'm hoping someday I'll be able to read it to my grandchildren. I intend to keep this book forever. I cannot say enough about the beautiful illustrations...they are more exquisite than any real place on earth could ever be. As a result, they're sure to capture your child's heart and imagination. The facial expressions are haunting and I find myself wishing we could just leap into the page and spend a little time in this world. I am only wondering if Laurel Long has prints available? I would so love to hang one on my daughter's wall in her bedroom. Please read this book. It's just fabulous.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is fairly long for a picture book, and so it may be hard for younger kids (or just kids with short attention spans) to sit through, even though the story is good. The illustrations, though, are breathtaking, and i am sure that there are a lot of younger kids who could make up their own intricate stories just based on the pictures. It's nice to see, as well, a fairy tale type book where there is a heroine who is saving the prince (or tsarovitch, in this case), though i guess it would have been nice to see Katya battling a dragon or something rather than just making wishes. Oh, well. It's a delightful book nonetheless. :)
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By A Customer on October 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful story, with lovely illustrations. Ms. Ogburn wrote an original folk tale, and Ms. Long has matched Ms. Ogburn's art. Perfect for reading aloud and looking at together. Ideal for the holidays and beyond.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We gave this to our Russian-born 4-year-old daughter as a Santa present and she has wanted me to read it to her just about every day since (it's been six weeks). We enjoy it on so many levels. The illustrations are rich and boldly saturated, reminiscent of Russian folk art, and each time we read it we find new details in the pages. Several of the illustrations cross two pages and tell bits of the story themselves. The story reads like a classic folk tale, although it is a new story by the author. It flips the traditional boy-saves-princess narrative, with a (self reliant and brave) peasant girl who breaks the (evil) spell holding the Tsarevitch and his kingdom in a perpetual winter. She is aided by a magic nesting doll containing a peasant doll, a bear, a wolf, and a firebird, all of whom are kind and helpful. With its gentle tone and its good-triumphs-over-evil ethic (while not being too didactic), it is sure to hold her interest for many years.

While this book is appealing simply as a beautiful children's book, we are particularly interested in how seamlessly it embeds elements of Russian culture, from the nesting doll to the animals to the prince's gold-domed castle. We do have adoption-themed children's books, but part of our approach to telling Anna her birth story is to teach her about her homeland, and The Magic Nesting Doll conveys historical Russia as a place of wild beauty, brave souls, and good magic. At four, our little one knows Russia only as a place with a name, but we anticipate that this text will help us introduce her country of birth to her as she grows up and is able to understand. For now, she loves the pictures, can recite the storyline by heart, and is asking for a firebird doll. We highly recommend this story.
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