Baboushka Russian: A Christmas Folktale from Russia

Overview

This holiday Baboushka tale blends the Nativity with the tradition of Christmas gift giving.

Everyone in the village is bubbling with excitement about the new star in the sky—everyone except old Baboushka, who is busy sweeping, scouring, and polishing her house. Then three strangers arrive. When Baboushka invites them to stay the night, they ask her to join their search for a new baby—an infant king. But Baboushka is too busy with her chores. ...

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Overview

This holiday Baboushka tale blends the Nativity with the tradition of Christmas gift giving.

Everyone in the village is bubbling with excitement about the new star in the sky—everyone except old Baboushka, who is busy sweeping, scouring, and polishing her house. Then three strangers arrive. When Baboushka invites them to stay the night, they ask her to join their search for a new baby—an infant king. But Baboushka is too busy with her chores. When at last she follows, bearing gifts for the baby, the newborn king is gone. Some say Baboushka continues her search to this very day, and at Christmas—whenever she sees a sleeping child or hears of good deeds—she will lift a toy from her basket and leave it.

An old woman who was too busy to travel with the Wise Men to find the Child now searches endlessly for Him each Christmas season.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
All the villagers are agog with news of a star and a procession all but the house-proud Baboushka, who's too busy keeping things tidy. She declines the three kings' offer to join them on their journey, a decision she later regrets when she finally sets out alone for Bethlehem and arrives after the newborn king is gone. Sholey's nifty folktale carries a thoughtful message, and Cann embroiders her watercolor illustrations with Russian folk art motifs. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Baboushka has the cleanest, most well kept house in her village, and her cooking is superb. The rest of the village is busy babbling about a star that has appeared in the sky, but Baboushka is too busy sweeping and polishing to worry about a star. Her housekeeping is soon interrupted by three kings who ask to stay in her home for the night. They are following the star, trying to find the king they know has been born. They invite Baboushka to travel with them to find the king. She worries about finding the right present for the new king, and stays home to clean up some old toys to bring. She promises to catch up with the kings. When she finally sets off, she is far behind. Wherever she goes on her travels, the kings have just left. She finally reaches Bethlehem, but it is too late. She visits the stable where the king had lain, and then drifts off again, always searching for what she missed. A wonderful cautionary tale, complemented by brilliantly colored watercolor and pencil illustrations. 2001 (text orig. 1982), Candlewick, $15.99. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Dr. Judy Rowen
Kirkus Reviews
Everyone in the village is talking about the bright star in the night sky, but Baboushka is too busy cleaning her home to be bothered with the speculations-at least until a trio of strangers arrive at her doorstep with news of a miracle. The three kings ask Baboushka for a place to stay and she offers them a warm bed and a sumptuous feast. In return they tell her of the newborn king whom they hope to find by following the star. They invite her to come along, but she makes excuses saying that there is too much work to be done. After they depart, she reconsiders and begins to clean the toys left by the death of her son so that she might offer them as a gift to the new baby. She sets out to follow them, only to discover that she's too late. And so it is that Baboushka travels the world looking for that child and leaving a gift wherever she finds one. Wonderful patterns in a myriad of colors evoke the feeling of Russian folk art in rich watercolor-and-collage illustrations that add a softly textured beauty to this uncommon retelling of the Christmas story and the practice of giving gifts. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763616199
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. Edition
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Arthur Scholey is the author of many stories for children, a large number of which have aired on BBC Radio. About BABAOUSHKA, he says, "I’ve always loved this tale, mainly because there’s some of Baboushka in all of us. One aspect echoes the ’go for it’ call to which the kings and shepherds in the story so readily respond. Another helps us to share with Baboushka the regret for those times when we don’t go for it."

Helen Cann trained in fine art and illustration and has illustrated several children’s books, including A CHILD'S BOOK OF CELTIC PRAYERS. About BABOUSHKA, she says, "I’m very interested in patterns and
decoration from different countries and cultures. The rich folk tradition of Russia means that the clothes, furniture, and even the houses are highly decorative and brightly colored, so painting the pictures for BABOUSHKA was great fun."

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