The Magic Nesting Doll

( 6 )

Overview

Katya's grandmother took a little matryoshka, a nesting doll, out of a small box. "If your need is great, open the doll and help will come. But you may only do so three times. After that the magic will be gone." A wicked spell has changed a handsome young prince to a pale glassy figure made of "living ice," and his kingdom to a frozen landscape of night without moon, darkness without dawn. Katya knows that it's up to her to rescue the prince and undo the evil spell that has banished the sun. Armed with only the ...

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Overview

Katya's grandmother took a little matryoshka, a nesting doll, out of a small box. "If your need is great, open the doll and help will come. But you may only do so three times. After that the magic will be gone." A wicked spell has changed a handsome young prince to a pale glassy figure made of "living ice," and his kingdom to a frozen landscape of night without moon, darkness without dawn. Katya knows that it's up to her to rescue the prince and undo the evil spell that has banished the sun. Armed with only the magic nesting doll and her own valiant heart, she is determined to succeed. But will the combined effort of her courage and the mysterious nesting doll be strong enough to prevail? Laurel Long's radiant paintings and Jacqueline K. Ogburn's enchanting original tale were inspired by Russian folk art and stories. This talented duo has created a modern classic that honors its folklore heritage while depicting a world in which a girl can be anything, including a hero.

After her grandmother dies, Katya finds herself in a kingdom where the Tsarvitch has been turned into living ice and she uses the magic nesting dolls her babushka had given her to try to break the curse.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When a girl arrives in a city under a wicked spell, she needs the help of a nesting doll bequeathed to her from her dying grandmother to break the enchantment. As PW wrote in a starred review, the "assured storytelling memorably joins together classic fairy-tale elements with Slavic imagery." Ages 4-8. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Opulent oil paintings, as lushly colored and intricately detailed as a Russian lacquer box, set the stage for this original folktale. As Katya's grandmother lies dying, she bequeaths Katya a magic matryoshka, or Russian nesting doll, and tells her that she may open it three times in an hour of need. The girl sets out to make her way in the world and soon arrives in a city under a wicked spell: "It is always winter without thaw, night without moon, and dark without dawn," an innkeeper explains. Worse, the handsome young Tsarevitch has been turned into living ice. With the help of her nesting doll, which releases first a bear, then a wolf and finally a firebird, Katya is able to break the enchantment, give the conniving Grand Vizier a taste of his own frosty medicine, and find true love. Ogburn's (The Jukebox Man) assured storytelling memorably joins together classic fairy-tale elements with Slavic imagery; her tale reads like one already tested by time. Long (The Mightiest Heart) weaves a kind of visual magic in a series of darkly lavish scenes. Her paintings simultaneously recall ornate tapestries, Russian icon art and the romantic elegance of Trina Schart Hyman. All ages. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
In this exquisitely written and lavishly illustrated original Russian tale, children can delight in the triumph of good over evil. They will share the fear and excitement of Katya as she uses her three wishes to rescue the prince who has been cast under a wicked spell by his uncle. Just before Katya's grandmother dies, she gives Katya a matryoshka but warns her not to open it until her needs are great. Several times Katya is near starvation, but each time she is rescued. When she learns of the plight of the prince, she vows to rescue him from the curse. Using the three wishes, her own inner strength, and her love for the prince, she succeeds in freeing him. The vibrant, rich colors of the full-page and double-page illustrations are inspired by Russian folk art and reflect the tone of the text in a powerful way. Reminiscent of Paul Zelinsky's illustrations and the retelling of Rapunzel, this original tale is one that will delight children and bring them back for additional readings. This book can be used as an introduction to Russian culture of the 1800s, as well as a way for children to compare traditional folklore with original tales. 2000, Dial Books, $16.99. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: J. B. Petty
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-An outstanding literary fairy tale that effectively captures the drama and splendor of traditional Russian folklore. Katya is given a magical nesting doll by her dying grandmother but is told that she can only use its magic three times. After entering a land of eternal winter, the young woman discovers a prince who has been turned into "living ice" through an enchantment. Aided in turn by a bear, wolf, and firebird that appear from inside the doll, Katya is able to restore the prince to his former self and destroy the villainous Grand Vizier. Needless to say, she and the prince live happily ever after. While the writing is filled with description and poetic images, it is the stunning full-page artwork that steals the show. Created using oil paints on paper primed with gesso, the illustrations are alive with detail and reminiscent of the miniaturist style used in Russian decorative items such as lacquered boxes, pins, and some nesting dolls. The palette reinforces the plot with black, blue, and purple gradually giving way to red, gold, and white. The page layout and design are also outstanding. This accessible, gorgeous title will undoubtedly pique children's interest in Russian folklore and nesting dolls. Becky Hickox Ayres's Matreshka (Doubleday, 1992; o.p.) and Corinne Demas Bliss's The Littlest Matryoshka (Hyperion, 1999) also feature the dolls in magical or anthropomorphic roles.-Denise Anton Wright, Alliance Library System, Bloomington, IL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Laurel Long illustrates this story of a spell which has changed a young price to an inanimate object. Beautiful fullpage color picture compliment a wordy text which may require good reading skills but rewards its young readers with an absorbing plot of a young girl's courage.
Kirkus Reviews
This beautifully designed and illustrated book will appeal to all who enjoy lavishly illustrated and well-told fairy tales. Long's rich oil paintings, with their details of fabric and flowers, black borders and backgrounds, resemble the jewel-like enameled boxes of Russian folk tradition. The tale, too, incorporates traditional folk elements, including a magical matryoshka doll, talking animal helpers (a bear, a wolf and a firebird), and a handsome prince frozen by an evil spell, who is saved by Katya's courage and her kiss. Katya is a strong heroine who makes her way alone in the world, determined to do what is right. It is only gradually that she falls in love with the Tsarevitch she sets out to save. Ogburn's prose flows smoothly and rhythmically, making this tale as lovely to read aloud as it is to look at. The details of snow, birds, clothing, plants, and animals, and the lavish designs in the architecture and in the interiors, in combination with the appealing story, simply and economically told, but rich in archetypes, make this a book to be enjoyed over and over again. (author's note) (Picture book. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803724143
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 288,349
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 550L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.88 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Writer Jacqueline K. Ogburn recently received her 15-minutes of fame when Daniel Pinkwater read the text of her most recent book, The Bake Shop Ghost, on the Weekend Edition - Saturday program on National Public Radio. "Delicious" said Daniel Pinkwater. "It's a yummy book."

Because of the broadcast, Ms. Ogburn was contacted by composer Jonathan Schwabe about turning the story into a musical. The two collaborated on the project and the play premiered at the Maud Powell Music Festival in June 2007. 

The book was also made into an independent short film by Lorette Bayle and is being shown at film festivals, both nationally and internationally. The Bake Shop Ghost film stars Kathryn Joosten as the ghost of Cora Lee Merriweather and Mary Anne Jeanne Baptiste as Ann Washington. It premiered at the Seattle Film Festival in May 2009. 

A North Carolina native, Ms. Ogburn received a bachelor's degrees in English and Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. For ten years, she worked in New York book publishing, primarily as a children's book editor. She is the author of eight picture books. Her previous book, The Magic Nesting Doll, received a starred review from "Publishers' Weekly" and has been translated into Greek and Korean. 

In addition to her writing, Ms. Ogburn worked as a speech writer and public affairs specialist for the NC Department of Cultural Resources and was president of a small non-profit press. She has also taught writing at several venues, including the Friday Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. She currently works for the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University in the Communications Office. 

The Bake Shop Ghost combines her passion for stories and dessert. Her family's favorite recipe for birthday cake is the one included in the book. Ms. Ogburn, her husband and two daughters live in North Carolina, in an 85-year-old bungalow with too many books and a deaf cat. 

Her website is at www.wincbooks.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2012

    highly recommended

    The story and illustrations are timeless and beautiful!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2011

    We recommended - Very good book

    My granddaughter and I enjoy the book very mush.
    I would of like to see it on the Nook Color because that is what we both have.

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  • Posted August 26, 2009

    Classic Folklore with Beautiful Illustrations

    Just before she dies, Katya's grandmother gives her a special gift to help her make her way in the world, a matryoshka or Russian nesting doll. Each figure in the matryoshka helps Katya to break the spell of a handsome young prince that has been turned to ice by the wicked Grand Vizier. When the magic from the dolls has been used up, Katya uses the magic of love to thaw the prince's heart.
    This is classic storytelling combined with detailed color illustrations to make a unique picture book.If you like fairy tales and folklore you will love this book! Share this book with others who are interested in Russian crafts or with collectors of nesting dolls.
    I have only found one other picture book about the Russian nesting dolls and that is "The Littlest Matryoshka" by Corrine Demas.

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  • Posted August 10, 2009

    The Magic Nesting Doll (Russian Fairtale)

    This fairytale was a favorite at our summer camp on Russia. It is a reversal of the sleeping beauty motif in fairytales. In this story the girl is brave and rescues the sleeping prince. Wonderfully illustrated. How the landscape changes, Russian landscape slowly thawing as the prince thaws. She is helped by a bear, a wolf and a phoenix. The children loved the repetition of how each character says of her predicament 'well it looks ok to me' (as a den) but off they go on their adventure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2007

    Lavishly illustrated - beautiful tale!

    A child I was nannying found this book in the library, and even her older siblings were enchanted as I read it to her again and again. We ultimately renewed the book three times! I could not wait for my own daughter, a few years on, to be old enough to enjoy it. Now she is enthralled with the story and also captivated by the incredible, traditional-style illustrations, which capture the old Russia of my imagination perfectly. Do not miss this chance to read this story to your children - girls will love that the hero is a girl '!' and boys will love the power of the animals which help her in her quest! Marvellous!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2001

    A Russian Role Reversal Tale of Sleeping Beauty

    In Sleeping Beauty, the young woman is enchanted and lies in a death-like sleep until awakened by love's first kiss. In The Magic Nesting Doll, it is the Russian prince, the Tsarevitch, instead who has been charmed into an icy block by his uncle, the Grand Vizier. A peasant girl, Katya, hears of his fate and moves Heaven and Earth to save him. If you love the story of Sleeping Beauty, you will, if you are like me, love this book as well. Katya has been reared by her grandmother at the edge of the forest. Before she dies, Katya's grandmother gives her a nesting doll, a matryoshka, and tells Katya the doll has magic powers. 'If your need is great, open the doll and help will come.' Katya can only do this three times, however. 'After that, the magic will be gone.' She is told though, 'Keep the doll and remember me.' Soon after her grandmother dies, Katya finds that the world is gripped by an icy hand. The sun, moon, and stars are all gone. An innkeeper tells her about the frozen Prince, and she makes her way to his side. The Grand Vizier does his best to deflect Katya, but with the help of her doll, Katyia is unstoppable. I appreciate stories like this one because they take familiar fairy tales of human loss and love, and allow females to play the heroine's role. In too many of our classic stories, the males are the 'good guys' and some woman is portrayed as the source of evil. In real life, people of both sexes probably have equal potential for good and questionable behavior. A story like this one makes that point without being too obvious about it. The book also rings deep within me like the allegories of tales about spring, and the reawakening of the Earth. In legends and myths, women are often portrayed in the role of bringing life back again . . . so Katya's role as Earth Mother seems appropriate. The book also uses references to animals that are important in Russian folk lore such as bears, wolves, and fire birds. This makes a connection to Russian thmes in a way so that when you see Russian ballets, this story will come to mind. And this story will remind you of the ballets, if you know them already. The nesting doll is an interesting metaphor for the idea of coming closer to your real self, as well. That psychological reference will be understood implicitly by many, even if they cannot articulate it. This book is wonderfully improved by the illustrations. They are primarily done in a style reminiscent of Art Deco, but with an oriental patterning and detail that make them richer. You will be reminded of stained glass. With vivid colors and strong contrasts, the conflicts in the story are enhanced and strengthened. This is one of the most appropriately illustrated childrens' book that I have ever seen. Well done, Ms. Laurel Long! But, to me, the greatest part of this book is that for all of its magical references, it relies on the character and intuition of Katya for its power. This is a wonderful statement about the personal power that we all have hidden within us, like the normally covered nesting dolls. After you have finished enjoying this story with your child or grandchild, I suggest that you talk

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