From Publishers Weekly
This gracefully illustrated, effusively narrated first book for author and illustrator retells the Eastern European tale of a girl captured by the witch, Baba Yaga. Sent to buy an egg for Easter, Marushka instead is sucked inside its shell and held prisoner by the evil hag. Rael's account of the girl's enslavement, her growing friendship with the witch's pets and their eventual escape unfolds with the deliberately paced, repetitive style of oral narrative as the heroine gradually gains the wisdom to free herself and her animal companions. But although the author's engaging yarn recalls a genuine Old World tale, her densely layered prose may seem overlong to contemporary readers. Moreover, the story's denouement--in which Marushka simply seizes Baba Yaga's magic amulet and uses it to escape from the egg--lacks sufficient drama to merit the lengthy build-up. Wezyk's naive-style tempera and watercolor illustrations create a richly textured panorama that calls to mind Russian babushka dolls. In a luminous rainbow of colors, she brings to life Marushka's loving home, the bustling village market, the macabre world inside the egg, and the hag flying through the air in her mortar, all surrounded by elaborate floral borders. Ages 5-9.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Sent to buy an egg for her mother's Easter bread, Marushka is entranced by the beautifully decorated one displayed by a woman in the market. But when Marushka pays, she finds herself inside the egg, in bondage to the woman, now revealed as Baba Yaga. Dutifully cooking and cleaning, Marushka makes friends with the witch's three animals and poses serious questions: What makes a person cruel or selfish? Baba Yaga answers truly, but exacts a penalty: each response ages Marushka a year. The witch doesn't reform, as Marushka hoped; still, with wit, luck, and a bit of magic, she and the animals escape. Rael draws extensively on Eastern European folklore to fashion her lively tale and embellish it with colorful detail, though Marushka's questions--a promising contemporary touch--aren't well integrated in the outcome. Polish-born Wezyk's illustrations, rich in decorative detail, sparkle with light and color in a manner reminiscent of Elisa Kleven's Abuela (1991), though they are more freely rendered; Baba Yaga is satisfyingly ugly without being too scary. Entertaining and attractive. (Young reader/Picture book. 5-9) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.