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The black geese : A Baba Yaga story from…
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The black geese : A Baba Yaga story from Russia (1999)

by Alison Lurie

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I recently chose this book for a Russian folktale themed storytime (the Olympics!). One of my favorite aspects of this book was how well it leant itself to prediction and discussion with children. In the story, the little girl receives three strange gifts from animals; she is told that if she is ever in danger, she can throw them over her shoulder for protection. When she is running from Baba Yaga, she throws the shell (from the fish) over her shoulder and a huge lake appears to hinder Baba Yaga's path. This pattern repeats itself and it is very fun to ask the children what they think each gift will create. Also, the story shows how being nice and kind to other creatures really pays off in the end. Which is lovely. I really liked the illustrations too. ( )
  LoisHaight | Feb 26, 2014 |
I remember being afraid of the Baba Yaga stories as a small child and in reading this one I can see that it is really quite macabre but it is a good fable. I love the illustrations in this one, they are simple but beautiful. ( )
  hnebeker | Dec 16, 2009 |
This story is based on "The Magic Swan Geese" by Aleksandr Afanas'ev, and incorporates many of the traditional elements of the story without being scary. Things are set into motion when Elena neglects to watch her baby brother carefully, and he is abducted by a pair of black geese that belong to the evil witch, Baba Yaga. Elena assists a succession of animals en route to rescue her brother, and each gifts her with a magical object. During their escape from the witch, Elena uses these objects, which transfigure into obstacles and allow them to get safely home. The cut paper collage illustrations and the simplicity of the text make this a great read-aloud that should suit ages 4-8. ( )
  rsamet | Dec 17, 2008 |
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Long ago there lived a man and wife who had two children, a girl and a boy.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"The story is based partly on "The Magic Swan-Geese" from Russian Fairy Tales by Aleksandr Afanasyev, published by Random House."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0789425580, Hardcover)

Baba Yaga's black geese steal children--everyone in the village fears them. So when young Elena discovers that her baby brother is missing, she knows she must rescue him from the evil Baba Yaga's forest lair. On her way, she runs across a fish out of water, gasping. Though she is in a great hurry, she helps it back into the pond.
"As you have helped me, so I shall help you," said the fish. "Here, take this shell. If ever you are in danger, throw it over your shoulder."
As she hurries along, she releases a squirrel from a trap, who gratefully gives her a danger-preventing walnut. When she later helps a field mouse move a rock, he gives her a danger-preventing pebble. At last she reaches Baba Yaga's foul hut, "which stands on three giant hens' legs and can move around when it likes." Baba Yaga is asleep inside, right next to her baby brother! She picks up her brother, and runs into the forest, with the terrible witch hot on her heels. Remembering her magical gifts from the forest creatures, she throws the shell behind her. A lake appears! But Baba Yaga drinks it in great thirsty gulps and is back on her trail. When Elena throws the walnut over her shoulder, a thick grove of trees appears! But Baba Yaga chews the trees down with her sharp teeth. When Elena throws the pebble, a mountain looms large, and Baba Yaga is at last stopped in her tracks. "As for Elena, she went on to her village and was safe at home playing with her little brother when her father and mother got back from the market with the sugar buns." Jessica Souhami's lively, geometric collages--inspired by Russian folk art--express action and emotion with the simplest of forms. Children will be on the edge of their seats as Elena tries to rescue her baby brother and is chased by the evil witch... and visibly relieved when they both make it home safe and sound. And who knows? The next time they see a fish or a squirrel in need, they may pause to help. (Ages 4 to 8) --Karin Snelson

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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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