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Koshka's Tales: Stories from Russia by James…

Koshka's Tales: Stories from Russia (1993)

by James Mayhew

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Four classic Russian folktales are retold, using a fifth as a framing story, in James Mayhew's Koshka's Tales, in which a storytelling cat reunites a foolish Tsar and his mistakenly banished wife and sons. In his somewhat revisionist retelling of The Tale of Tsar Saltan, Prince Guidon and the Tsaritsa Militrissa end up on the Island of Bouyan, after being cast into the sea by Tsar Saltan, himself manipulated by the tsaritsa's jealous sisters. Here, on the island, the two castaways discover Koshka - a marvelous storytelling cat, chained to an oak tree. Through a series of encounters with a sailing merchant, the prince and tsaritsa send four of Koshka's stories - The Tale of the Snow Maiden, The Tale of Sadko the Minstrel, The Tale of the Fire-bird, Tsarevitch Ivan, and Grey Wolf, and The Tale of Baba Yaga and Fair Vasilisa - back to the Tsar, eventually convincing him to sail out to find them...

An engaging collection, sure to please Russian folklore enthusiasts, Mayhew's book is well-told and well-illustrated, with colorful artwork and appealing folk-motif borders. The revisions are fairly minor, and done in a respectful spirit, and an author's afterword details the source materials. I can't say that this is my favorite such collection, either in terms of narrative or artwork (what could ever rival the work of Ivan Bilibin?), but it was still quite appealing. Recommended for those with a strong interest in folklore. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Jul 19, 2013 |
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There was a time, long ago, when the land of Russia was divided up into many parts.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The wise old storytelling cat, Koshka, recounts the magical legends of Russia as she sits in an oak tree on the remote Island of Bouyan telling stories to the Tsarita and her son. These enchanting stories are beautifully illustrated in full color in the rich tradition of Russian folk art.

James Mayhew has fulfilled a long held ambition with the publication of Koshka's Tales. Inspired by the ballets and operas of Rimsky-Korskov, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky, Mayhew has delved into Russian Folklore to produce a kaleidoscope of tales linked by the story-telling cat, Koshka. "I hope," he says, "that chidren's imaginations will be caught up in the magical world of Russian folklore, as mine was as a child, and that they will thus be introduced to the rich and varied culture of Russia." [...] Mayhew lives in England and has a Russian Blue cat called -- of course -- Koshka. [from the jacket]
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Four Russian folktales--"The Snow Maiden, "Sadko the Merchant," "The Firebird," and "Baba-Yoga and Fair Vassilisa"--are set in the framework of a fifth tale, "The Tale of Tsar Saltan," as told by a wise old cat.

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