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Babushka Baba Yaga by Patricia Polacco
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Babushka Baba Yaga

by Patricia Polacco

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This book by Patricia Polacco is derived from Russian folklore. The beautiful illustrations are made to represent Russian peasant life in the past. It also teaches a great lesson of acceptance and friendship that students can appreciate.
  emilystrong | Nov 30, 2014 |
Russian folklore tells of Baba Yaga a craggy, ugly witch with iron teeth and chicken claws for feet, and who lives deep in the wood and devours humans.

Using the tale of Baba Yaga, Polacco turns the story from ugliness to beauty, from darkness to light. Watching from afar, Baba Yaga, sees women with children and grand children.

Stealing clothes from the line, Baba Yaga covers her ugly body, wears a babushka and, longing to have a child to hold, Baba Yaga follows a single mother home and offers to take care of her little boy while she is at work.

The little child becomes very attached to Baba Yaga, and she loves him in return. When she overhears the townswomen telling the tale of the wickedness of the wooded creature, her heart breaks. Leaving the family, she flees before the little boy becomes fearful.

Later, she rescues a child from wild wolves and becomes celebrated as a kind, other directed soul. ( )
  Whisper1 | Jul 23, 2014 |
That towering figure of Russian folklore, Baba Yaga - sometime witch, sometime forest-spirit, who goes flying through the air on her mortar, who lives in a chicken-footed house, and who, despite her reputation as a devourer of children, has been known to dispense aid upon occasion to the worthy (see the story of Vassilisa the Beautiful for one example) - is here domesticated, and transformed into a lonely old woman who longs for a grandchild to love. Stealing some human clothing, and disguising herself as one of the villagers, Baba Yaga discovers that Natasha and Victor - a young mother and child on their own - are in need of a babushka, and she immediately steps in, becoming an important part of their lives. But when story-time reveals just what the villagers think of her - of the real her - Baba Yaga flees back to the forest, before Victor can find out who she truly is. Will Babushka Baba Yaga ever be reunited with her new-found family...?

Although I have nothing to say against the moral Patricia Polacco seeks to inculcate in her young readers, with this revisionist tale - "Those who judge one another on what they hear or see, and not on what they know of them in their hearts, are fools indeed!" declares one old woman, after the happy reunion of Baba Yaga and Victor - I wish she has used some other folk-figure to illustrate it. Baba Yaga is meant to be fearsome, but also ambiguous. She's a villain - except when she isn't, and is helping (sometimes reluctantly) the hero and/or heroine. She's the figure of the old woman, both feared and respected - a figure of power: dangerous, but not always adversarial. To make her into a cozy old grandmother - a character whose sole desire is to be involved with child-rearing - is like a slap in the face, whether Polacco intended it or not, to all those readers, of whatever gender, who need to see a range of feminine characters in their stories.

I'm really quite surprised that Polacco - a prolific picture-book author and artist whose work, even when not a personal favorite, is usually of high quality - misjudged this one so badly. A real disappointment, I'm sorry to say. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 15, 2013 |
In Russia, it is believed that Baba Yaga is a witch that eats children. This Baba Yaga goes to the park and watches other grandmothers with their grandchildren. However; she is not mean nor does she wish to eat the children. She wishes for a grandchild of her own. Grades K - 3. ( )
  ydraughon | Jul 15, 2012 |
00001970
  cavlibrary | Jun 29, 2012 |
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The villagers are afraid of her, so the legendary Baba Yaga disguises herself as an old woman in order to know the joys of being a grandmother.

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