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Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave Hardcover – Illustrated, May 19, 1994

4.7 out of 5 stars 63 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The creators of The Twelve Dancing Princesses offer an elaborate interpretation of this Russian folktale, which incorporates elements of Hansel and Gretel as well as the Cinderella story. Craft's paintings (reminiscent, in their ornate detailing, of those of Gennady Spirin) are embellished with florid borders, inset illustrations and fancy dropped-capital letters at the start of the text block on each spread. Her startlingly hideous depiction of Baba Yaga the crone makes the pointy-hat-and-warted-nose witch found in most fairy tales seem downright cute by comparison; the impact, however, is gravely inhibited by a legend at the bottom of the painting: "Smoking After Meals Is One of Baba Yaga's Many Bad Habits . . . " Mayer's stately retelling is equally formal, but maintains a natural buoyancy that enhances the book's read-aloud appeal: "It should be no wonder, then, that Baba Yaga lives alone. Even so, from time to time, there is the occasional visitor, the stray traveler, the hapless wanderer. Few have survived the visit." Similar in style to Elizabeth Winthrop's Vasilissa the Beautiful , this adaptation focuses on the heroine's bravery rather than her beauty, a distinction that may be important to some. All ages.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-5-An engaging text and accomplished paintings set this version apart from the recent crop of retellings of this popular Russian variant of the Cinderella tale. After the death of her father, Vasilisa is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters; her only comfort is the magical doll made by her mother before she died. Sent to Baba Yaga's house to fetch a light, the girl becomes the witch's servant and is given a series of impossible tasks to perform. With the help of her doll, she pleases the demanding hag, who sends her home with the precious light. After it destroys her stepmother and stepsisters, Vasilisa goes to live with an elderly woman and learns to spin and weave. She creates an exquisite piece of cloth that catches the attention of the tsar. He seeks out its maker, finds the heroine, and asks for her hand in marriage. Mayer's graceful prose conveys both the wonder and power of the tale. Complementing the text are Craft's illustrations done in a mixture of watercolor, gouache, and oils. The palette of red and gold set against a dark background resembles Russian folk-art paintings on black-lacquered wood. The pictures are often dark, and the depiction of Baba Yaga is not for the weakhearted. The use of decorative capital letters, elegant typeface, and small drolleries add to the visual appeal of each page. A stylized and classy offering that's ideal for older picture-book audiences.
Denise Anton Wright, Illinois State University, Normal
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • Lexile Measure : 880L
  • Grade Level : 2 - 3
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0688085001
  • Hardcover : 40 pages
  • Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
  • ISBN-10 : 0688085008
  • Product Dimensions : 9 x 0.25 x 11 inches
  • Publisher : HarperCollins; Illustrated Edition (May 19, 1994)
  • Reading level : 4 - 8 years
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 63 ratings