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Marushka and the Month Brothers

Marushka and the Month Brothers

by Philemon Sturges, Anna Vojtech (Illustrator)

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A retelling of the Slavic folktale in which the Month Brothers' magic helps Marushka fulfill seemingly impossible tasks which prove the undoing of her greedy stepmother and stepsister.


A retelling of the Slavic folktale in which the Month Brothers' magic helps Marushka fulfill seemingly impossible tasks which prove the undoing of her greedy stepmother and stepsister.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Revisiting a favorite folktale from her childhood in Czechoslovakia, Vojtech teams again with Sturges, her collaborator on Ten Flashing Fireflies. They lace their lyrical narrative with affecting imagery as they retell the plight of lovely Marushka, whose "warm smile could thaw a January day." Yet it has no such effect on her cruel stepmother and demanding stepsister. During the bitterly cold winter, they set the patient girl to impossible tasks, bidding her to fetch violets, juicy strawberries and fresh apples. Marushka fills each of these outlandish requests with the help of the Month Brothers, 12 godlike figures she discovers seated around a fire in a snowy hollow. Vojtech's softly focused paintings accentuate, with gentle humor, the contrast between the kind, hardworking Marushka and her greedy, lazy tormentors. While kids will giggle at the lumpy stepsister's decidedly pig-like nose, such details don't interrupt the overall impression of timeless grace. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - C. Dennette Michaels
There is a simple strength within this picture book that honors its origin. As stated in the Artist's Note: "It's a very old folktale that has been told in Czech and Slovak villages for countless generations...Years ago I hiked through the powerful and mysterious Tatra Mountains of Slovakia...people friendly and proud...part of that rugged landscape...Marushka and the Month Brothers must be nearby." This tale of virtue rewarded and evil punished is clothed in images that enter almost all lives - food, flowers, fire, blizzard, and gives a humanity to the months in the form of the twelve Brothers. Recommended for all who can be touched by such family-yes, human values.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Large-eyed, fair-haired Marushka is sent by her evil stepmother and stepsister into a storm in this retelling of a familiar Slavic folktale. She climbs toward the light and discovers the 12 Month Brothers, who help her to meet the impossible challenges that her relatives impose on her-finding violets in January, strawberries soon after, etc. Everyday language ("Your sister wants strawberries! Get some for her") is supported by full-color, water-based illustrations that display a hint of irony. The stepsister's nose is turned up, pig-like, sniffing violets, while Marushka makes a blot on the horizon as she trudges off for berries. Interesting composition lifts this treatment above the ordinary, with well-lit faces and changing angles. In the end, Marushka is free of the two step-bullies and finds friendship in the enduring light of the Month Brothers. Collections that do not include Beatrice Schenk de Regniers and Margot Tomes's Little Sister and the Month Brothers (Clarion, 1976) will welcome this pleasing offering. It makes a satisfying read-aloud or a good choice for independent reading.-Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA
Kirkus Reviews
This Slavic folktale features Marushka, a Cinderella-like figure whose smile is said to bring a thaw in January. Not only does she wait upon her lazy stepmother and loathsome stepsister, Holena, she must also cater to their demands: It may be January, but Holena wants violets. "And don't come back without them," Holena's mother bellows into a blizzard. Marushka struggles through the snow, up a mountainside, where she happens upon the Month Brothers, 12 odd fellows who minister over the seasons. Brother March conjures spring just long enough for Marushka to pick a posy. Next Holena wants strawberries; Brother June helps out. Then apples—Brother September bails Marushka out one last time. Greed does in the hideous Holena and her mother, and their comeuppance is deeply gratifying. So are Vojtech's illustrations, shot through with folkloric touches and redolent of the seasons.

Product Details

North-South Books, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.28(w) x 10.18(h) x 0.34(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Philemon Sturges was an architect and the author of several books for children, including "I Love Trains!, I Love Trucks!, I Love Planes!, I Love School!, " and "I Love Bugs!"

Anna Vojtech has illustrated numerous books for children, mostly folktales and stories about nature. Nature has always been a strong source of inspiration for Anna. Her pictures are full of flowers and animals, of giraffes and elephants, of little birds and chipmunks. Folktales are also about people, their nature and their spirit. Her illustrations have brought readers closer to the stories and traditions of their countries.
Anna grew up in Prague, Czechoslovakia, what is now the Czech Republic. "Prague was a magical place to grow up. We were surrounded by beauty, mystery, history and by nature." She studied art and toy design at the School of Applied Arts and animation film and graphics at the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague. Later she attended the Royal Academy in Antwerp, Belgium and the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg, Germany where she met her German-American husband.
Since 1982 she has lived on Cape Ann, Massachusetts with her husband and their two sons.

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