The Tale of The Firebird

Overview

In all the world there is said to be nothing more beautiful than the Firebird. When Ivan-Tsarevitch, youngest son of the Tsar, goes on a quest for the amazing bird, he finds himself flying over mountains and woods on a talking wolf, confronting a wicked Baba Yaga, and rescuing an enchanted princess from Koshchei the Immortal. But when he returns from his magical journey, he brings home the most precious treasure of all.

Gennady Spirin brings this original version of the Firebird...

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Overview

In all the world there is said to be nothing more beautiful than the Firebird. When Ivan-Tsarevitch, youngest son of the Tsar, goes on a quest for the amazing bird, he finds himself flying over mountains and woods on a talking wolf, confronting a wicked Baba Yaga, and rescuing an enchanted princess from Koshchei the Immortal. But when he returns from his magical journey, he brings home the most precious treasure of all.

Gennady Spirin brings this original version of the Firebird tale from his native Russia and has illustrated it in his trademark rich, luminous style. This retelling of a classic is sure to become the new standard.

When Prince Ivan sets out to find the Firebird for his father the tsar, he must complete a series of tasks before obtaining the Firebird and winning the hand of a beautiful princess.

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Editorial Reviews

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 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Could there be anything more beautiful than Yelena the Beautiful? Only the luminous firebird can rival her comeliness. Both are elusive and shrouded in magic and mystery. It all begins when Tsar Vassilyi's fruit from the golden apple tree is stolen. His youngest son, Ivan-Tsarevitch, is the only one who manages to see the thief for himself—the Firebird, and who snatches one of his tail feathers as proof. Seeing the glow of the feather, the Tsar demands the bird be caught and presented to him. The three brothers set off in separate directions. At the edge of the forest Ivan-Tsarevitch is met by a large gray wolf. As re-payment for a previous kindness, the wolf offers its help and magic to fulfill the quest. Once the firebird has been found, Ivan-Tsarevitch is required to fulfill three other seemingly hopeless tasks before he may return to his father. Encountering villains of other Russian folklore, Ivan-Tsarevitch overcomes the evil and wins the hand of the beautiful maiden and lives happily ever after. The glorious intricate illustrations are reason enough to own this work. The unique braiding of three Russian fairy tales adds to the creativity and magical aura of this unique tale. 2002. Philomel Books,
— Elizabeth Young
School Library Journal
Gr 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.
Kirkus Reviews
Exquisite design and delicately elaborate illustration evoking the finely burnished gilt tradition of classic Russian lacquer ware transport the reader to once-upon-a-time and the faraway kingdom of Tsar Vasilyi. Each night, a fabulous peacock-like bird, with feathers of fiery magnificence, pilfers the fruit of the Tsar's exotic golden-apple tree. Vasilyi covets the bird, and he promises great rewards to the one who can capture and deliver this wondrous creature. This beautifully articulated translation of the traditional tale in which the youngest of three sons must conquer his impulses and complete a royal quest, is rife with verbal and visual motifs that invite the reader to slow down, to scrutinize, and to appreciate every aspect of this story of second chances and of learning from one's mistakes. The conflict between good and evil, between the strengths and weaknesses of human nature, is subtly communicated in the ingenious use of positive and negative space on alternating pages. Visual detail is enhanced by watercolor work so fine, it seems it could only have been wrought with a single hair of the great gray wolf who carries the earnest hero, Ivan-Tsarevitch, soaring over opulent, onion-domed rooftops toward the fulfillment of his promises and the hard-won rewards of a man of honor. Readers will find this version less cumbersome than others in which the Firebird is sometimes bird, sometimes woman, and which often include a much larger cast of characters and distracting, gruesome scenes. Here, the message is illuminated, not obscured, by the medium and the manner in which it is offered. Masterful. (Picture book/folktale. 5-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399235849
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 416,367
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.41 (w) x 11.88 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Gennady Spirin was born in 1948 in a small city near Moscow. A graduate of the Strogonov Academy of Fine Arts, he is noted for his beautiful illustrations, meticulously researched and exquisitely executed in pencil and watercolor. His work has brought him international renown as many awards, including the Gold Medal of the Society of Illustrators, the Golden Apple of the Bratislava International Biennale of children's book illustration, First Prize for Illustration at the Barcelona International Children's Book Fair, and the Premio Grafico at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. His book Gulliver's Adventures in Lilliput (retold by Ann Keay Beneduce) was chosen one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review.

Gennady Spirin came to the United States in 1991 and now lives with his wife and their three sons in Princeton, New Jersey. copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
Gennady Spirin was born in 1948 in a small city near Moscow. A graduate of the Strogonov Academy of Fine Arts, he is noted for his beautiful illustrations, meticulously researched and exquisitely executed in pencil and watercolor. His work has brought him international renown as many awards, including the Gold Medal of the Society of Illustrators, the Golden Apple of the Bratislava International Biennale of children's book illustration, First Prize for Illustration at the Barcelona International Children's Book Fair, and the Premio Grafico at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. His book Gulliver's Adventures in Lilliput (retold by Ann Keay Beneduce) was chosen one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review.

Gennady Spirin came to the United States in 1991 and now lives with his wife and their three sons in Princeton, New Jersey. copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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