The Black Geese: A Baba Yaga Story from Russia

Overview

When her little brother is taken away by the black geese belonging to the terrible witch, Baba Yaga, Elena searches for him in the great dark forest. The scary witch, the resourceful little girl, and the magical animals--traditional elements of fairy tales from around the world--come together here with bright, dynamic illustrations to create a new classic.

When her little brother is taken away by the black geese belonging to the terrible witch, Baba Yaga, Elena ...

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Overview

When her little brother is taken away by the black geese belonging to the terrible witch, Baba Yaga, Elena searches for him in the great dark forest. The scary witch, the resourceful little girl, and the magical animals--traditional elements of fairy tales from around the world--come together here with bright, dynamic illustrations to create a new classic.

When her little brother is taken away by the black geese belonging to the terrible witch, Baba Yaga, Elena searches for him in the great dark forest.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Baba Yaga, the powerful hag of Russian folklore, comes to spine-tingling life in Lurie's (The Heavenly Zoo) lean, suspenseful retelling of a well-loved tale. When her parents must go to market, Elena is left at home to look after her baby brother. In the Russia of old, baby-sitting also means keeping watch for Baba Yaga's black geese, which snatch children for their mistress to eat. Elena lets her attention wander and soon her brother is astride one of the black geese, winging its way to Baba Yaga's dinner table. In hot pursuit of the baby, Elena passes three creatures in need, and though she doesn't want to tarry, Elena takes time to aid the fish, squirrel and mouse. As in most folktales, the magic gifts from the grateful creatures eventually repay her kindness and help Elena outmaneuver Baba Yaga. Souhami's (Rama and the Demon King) cut-paper collage illustrations feature a rich watercolor palette, spryly accented with pen and ink. The building blocks of her art are simple geometric shapes, arranged with sophistication. The characters' hands, for example, don't quite meet the arms, and the arms don't quite meet the torsos--the result is a loose-jointed and dynamic look suggestive of a skillfully worked marionette show. A fresh new take on a perennial favorite. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Carolyn Dennette Michaels
A writer with a Pulitzer among her adult novels, plus several children's books and an illustrator who designed textiles and now tours with shadow puppeteers, musicians, and storytellers have combined their talents to produce this satisfying, picture book retelling. The text is simple and direct, and the graphics look like paper cut-outs against a background of neutral, natural tan. Lurie has also given us "values" in such as: "Elena did not see how a shell could help her, but she did want to seem rude, so she put it in her pocket and ran on." That shell, of course, becomes one of the magic charms that saves Elena.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3This picture-book retelling of a folktale features vivid collages, a strong female protagonist, and a suitably comic villain in the guise of Baba Yaga. Elenas parents leave her in charge of her baby brother and warn her that the witchs black geese will snatch him if she leaves the house. When Elena becomes bored and takes her brother outside, the inevitable happens. She then sets out to rescue the child and, with the help of a fish, a squirrel, and a mouse, she is able to bring him home just in time for her parents return. Based on The Magic Swan-Geese from Aleksandr Afanasyevs classic Russian Fairy Tales (Pantheon, 1976), this tale is also included in Luries Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten Folktales (Crowell, 1980; o.p.). Readers who are already familiar with the character will recognize many details in this retelling, including Baba Yagas house on chicken feet and her ability to chew up trees with her sharp teeth. However, one notable difference in Luries version is that the Baba Yaga role is enlarged so that she becomes a full-fledged main character. The emphasis in Souhamis complementary illustrations is on shape and color rather than texture or shading and bring to mind the minimalism of a flannel-board story. While there are some scary moments, the outrageous witch, perpetually happy baby, and soothing tan backgrounds defuse much of the trauma. Equally well suited for independent readers or sharing aloud.Denise Anton Wright, Alliance Library System, Bloomington, IL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Long
Here's one well-known novelist for adults who can summon exactly the right voice for a tale for the youngest children: clean, clear, flowing easily and directly from one thought to the next...Souhami's illustrations are as spare and lively as Lurie's beautifully honed narrative.
The Horn Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789425584
  • Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/15/1999
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.38 (w) x 10.14 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Alison Lurie
Alison Lurie
Whether she is deconstructing the mores of modern romance, the clothes we wear, or the books we read as children, Alison Lurie can be depended upon to bring out the finer points of perception that often escape us. In both fiction and nonfiction, her witty, urbane prose enlivens whatever subject she chooses.

Biography

Alison Lurie is the author of many highly praised novels, including The War Between the Tates, The Truth About Lorin Jones (Prix Femina Etranger), and Foreign Affairs (Pulitzer Prize for fiction). She teaches writing, folklore, and literature at Cornell University.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Hometown:
      Ithaca, New York; London, England; Key West, Florida
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 3, 1926
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Education:
      A.B., Radcliffe College, 1947

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