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The Tale of The Firebird Hardcover – September 30, 2002


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The Tale of The Firebird + Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave + The Magic Nesting Doll
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel; 1ST edition (September 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399235841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399235849
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 9.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As elegant as any imperial treasure, this sumptuously illustrated book showcases Spirin's (The Sea King's Daughter; Philipok) near-magical artistry. Here he adapts three Russian fairy tales to coin his own version of the story of the tsar's son and his quest for the dazzling firebird. This prince receives aid from a big gray wolf, who helps him through a number of trials, even though the prince doesn't always follow his instructions. Their adventures take them to far-off kingdoms, to Baba Yaga's chicken-footed cottage and to the battlefield of Koshchei the Immortal. Ultimately, Ivan-Tsarevitch not only finds the firebird but also rescues and wins the hand of princess Yelena the Beautiful. The cadences are stately ("In a moment, the wolf had transformed himself into a warrior's horse so great and strong that it cannot be described, either with words or with a brush"), and the artwork is some of Spirin's most exquisite. Some of his watercolors are shaped like triptychs or altarpieces, others stretch across both pages like tapestries. The central compositions twinkle and glow as if dusted with gold leaf; twining about the text, the borders are intricately detailed but wrought in an airier, more open style that recalls the folk origins of the story. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5-Someone is stealing the Tsar's golden apples. When Ivan-Tsarevitch, the ruler's youngest son, is sent to watch, he discovers that the culprit is the magnificent firebird. Able to snatch only a single feather, he embarks on a quest to find the bird, accompanied by a faithful wolf with magical powers. In the course of the quest, he is also required to search for a horse with a golden mane, and battle Koshchei the Immortal to rescue Yelena the Beautiful. Spirin has blended versions of three different traditional Russian tales to create what the author's note refers to as an "original composition." While the writing generally flows smoothly, it sometimes veers away from the spirit of the core material, as when the evil witch Baba Yaga is interjected into the story and is inexplicably helpful to the hero, contrary to her usual persona. Spirin's illustrations are superior to the story he tells. Done in watercolor, the painterly pictures are elaborately detailed and exquisitely executed, capturing all of the magic and mystery of the long ago and far away. Of particular note are the elegant borders, which enhance the text they frame and invite readers into this magical realm. Larger libraries will probably want to purchase the book, but smaller collections already holding Demi's The Firebird (Holt, 1994; o.p.), Ruth Sanderson's The Golden Mare, the Firebird, and the Magic Ring (Little, Brown, 2001), or Jane Yolen's The Firebird (HarperCollins, 2002) may consider this an additional acquisition.
Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Gennady Spirin was classically educated at the Moscow Art School at the Academy of Arts and at the Moscow Stroganov Institute. Influenced by Russian Renaissance painters, Mr. Spirin has developed his own unique style of illustration using traditional Russian art techniques. His work appeared four times on the annual New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Books of the Year list. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The illustrations are exquisite and beautifully drawn.
Mayura S. Rutherford
I was looking for the whole story... but this is a great story for Children.
J. Parker
Purchased for my 6 year old granddaughter and she loved it.
Margaret Williams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jackie Carlos on August 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My son loves this book. Esecially since the wolf changes shapes. The detail and art is gorgeous and the story kep the attention of my 5 yr old, a very high spirited individual
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mayura S. Rutherford on November 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I listened to Russian folk tales in Russian and read them as a child. In September this year, I bought this book for my 7 year old son. The illustrations are exquisite and beautifully drawn. The story was originally in Russian and I have read and re-read the story to my son and every time he has enjoyed it and he loves the illustrations, each time there seems to be some new detail in a page. To me the story in English didn't seem to have the same interest level as it may have been in its original version, nevertheless; it is book not just a child would enjoy but an adult too, this is definitely a book to keep for years to come.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jeryl Metz, Books on December 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Gennady Spirin's artwork. His FIREBIRD epitomizes classic Russian-style painting with it's ornate touches. He is a genius.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By M. Fridell on August 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The artwork is fantastic, evocative, and gorgeous, combining a gold palette and northern winter-evening moonlit scenes, and featuring intricate folk art border illustrations. The tale is in some ways charming, including a sympathetic wolf, though there is no emotional or character development (It's more of a quick, amalgamated introduction to Russian fairytales), and it offers no lessons you'd want to impart to a child, other than: Go have adventures with a magical wolf at your back! (Also lurking in the story may be a morality tale for those in a position to run an imperialist power: Don't be afraid to buck cautious counsel and be acquisitive with regard to allies' possessions, but follow counsel when it comes to preparing for war. I sincerely doubt this is a useful lesson for your typical middle/working class kid, what with her/his lack of imperial power.) Plot synopsis: A magical, powerful wolf takes a few days out of his or her life to really help the fortunate youngest prince undertake successive adventures, culminating in the prince gaining all sorts of booty: a lovely mate, a golden-maned horse, a magical sword, kingdoms, adulation, and a spectacular peacock in a golden cage.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alla on June 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beautifully illustrated and very well written--an excellent present for any child. I bought this as a Christmas present for my friend's child. Nex Christmas I'm buying more of these books for other kids as presents. Absolutely stunning!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Esther J. Smith on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I collect children's book because many are like this one: an elegant and visual treat. Gennady Spirin does the most detailed illustrations and the borders of each page echo the story line. There is a dreamlike quality to the illustrations as they are not sharply defined but slightly misty. The theme of the youngest son triumphing is an old one and enjoyable with its Russian flavour here. This will be one of my special books to share with my grandchildren when they are older.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Parker on November 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was looking for the whole story... but this is a great story for Children.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donna Mpaulin on May 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
what a delightful story. such a wounderful tale of what can happen if the child is diaobediant. we all have consequences for our actions. a great message in this story for children.
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