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The Magic Sewing Machine
     

The Magic Sewing Machine

by Sunny Warner
 

In this original fairy tale, orphans Olya and her little brother Sacha have nothing left in the world except each other, their cat Basil, and a sewing machine left to them by their mother. Before she died, their mother warned the children never to part with the sewing machine, as it will help them when all else fails. The children are sent to a cold, dark orphanage

Overview

In this original fairy tale, orphans Olya and her little brother Sacha have nothing left in the world except each other, their cat Basil, and a sewing machine left to them by their mother. Before she died, their mother warned the children never to part with the sewing machine, as it will help them when all else fails. The children are sent to a cold, dark orphanage run by the miserly Miss Schnaap, who stuffs her mattress with money while Olya sews, Sacha makes baskets, and Basil chases mice in the cellar. The children long to escape, until one icy night a strange occurrence in the attic changes everything, revealing at last the wonderful secret of the magic sewing machine.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The dastardly adults and resourceful heroes combine for dramatic storytelling. . . . A story-hour special." Kirkus Reviews

"Just enough evil to create pleasurable shivers and a highly satisfactory conclusion for all." School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Drawing from both the literary and visual traditions of folklore, Warner (Tobias and His Big Red Satchel) weaves a clever original tale. Olya and her little brother, Sacha, are forced to live in a horrible orphanage run by the evil Miss Schnaap. One night, Olya discovers that the sewing machine left to her by her mother will grant any wish. She conjures up warm clothes and bedding for every orphan, and then plots the children's escape by wishing for a big balloon. In a Wizard-of-Oz-like twist, it is Miss Schnaap who gets whisked away in the balloon while the children remain behind; with the help of villagers, they turn their home into a joyous Academy of Circus Arts (Miss Schnaap ends up happily, too). Warner's illustrations integrate a wide range of folk art conventionsa single-point perspective; repeating action; multi-panel formats; wide-eyed, elongated faces; graphic borders reminiscent of quilt patternsto evoke the feel of a faraway time and place. But she never loses sight of the sophistication level of the reader. She uses distinctly contemporary characterizationespecially when it comes to her villainsto draw them into the action. A story well tailored to its audience. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Patricia Timbrook
Orphans Olya and her little brother, Sacha, are taken from their home by a stranger named Miss Schnaap, who allows them to bring along their mother's sewing machine and their cat, Basil. All are carted off to an orphanage run by the cruel and heartless spinster. One night while sewing Olya discovers the words written on the sewing machine and wishes it so, at which point things start to come true. Although the reader may assume the sewing machine is magical, in essence the magic is that both goodness and evil are rewarded appropriately. Warner's bordered, dreamlike and colorful illustrations help convey the moods of the story beginning with carefree yet mundane, to dreary and bleak, to dreamy and wishful, to black and fearful, and finally to delightful and cheery. For adults who rely on stories that help both the emotions and fantasies of children to surface, this story completes the task well, and catapults the reader's heart to leap to an affirmative, "YES!"
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2Olya and Sacha's dying mother entrusts them with her sewing machine promising, "It will help you when all else fails." Left alone to care for themselves, the children are beleaguered by the harsh landlord. Then stern Miss Schnaap comes and takes them to the orphanage, which is straight out of Dickenschild labor, punishment, and little food. One night, Olya discovers an inscription on the sewing machine promising to grant wishes. Sure enough, it pops out new boots and warm clothes for all of the orphans. They then wish for a big balloon to escape, but it's Miss Schnaap who falls into its basket and floats away. The children rejoice, find loads of gold under the villain's mattress, and turn the orphanage into the Academy for Circus Arts. The final page shows Miss Schnaap happily situated on a tropical island. The illustrations are stylized, the characters cartoonlike, thus keeping the tone light in spite of the heavy theme. Dark, gloomy colors predominate while the action is set in the orphanage; they become increasingly brighter after Miss Schnaap takes flight. Although there is a distinctive Russian look, a specific geographic setting is not mentioned. Readers will revel in the victory of honest kids over oppressive adults. Despite the initial dark overtones, this book works well, always remaining upbeat, for youngsters will realize from the beginning that somehow these children are going to come out on top.Christy Norris, Valley Cottage Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Two orphans, brother and sister, triumph over their miserable lot in life with the help of a magic sewing machine.

Before she died, Olya and Sacha's mother implored them to keep the sewing machine; now they pay the rent on their cottage by sewing and gathering wood for their greedy landlord. Miss Schnaap from the orphanage arrives and hauls them off, forcing them to work constantly in the cold and dark with the other unhappy charges. An idle wish Olya makes comes true, revealing the machine's power to grant wishes. The children wish for escape, and their ogre of a headmistress is carried off in a hot-air balloon while they run the institution on their own, warm and well fed. The dastardly adults and resourceful heroes combine for dramatic storytelling; even Miss Schnaap gets a happy ending. Warner employs folk-art motifs in an original style that shows stylized children and adults; the pictures are effectively composed to convey somber moods, humorous moments, and scenes of lasting harmony. A story-hour special.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395827475
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/28/1997
Edition description:
None
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
11.00(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.13(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Author-artist Sunny Warner uses bits of fabric in her illustrations to create a quilted effect for this touching tale. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she has written and illustrated several children's books. Ms. Warner lives in Tucson, Arizona

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