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Babushka: An Old Russian Folktale

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Retells the traditional tale of the old lady who, having missed her chance to take gifts to the newborn Christ Child, still wanders leaving gifts for all children in hopes that, one day, she will come upon Him.


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Retells the traditional tale of the old lady who, having missed her chance to take gifts to the newborn Christ Child, still wanders leaving gifts for all children in hopes that, one day, she will come upon Him.

30 review for Babushka: An Old Russian Folktale

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    Intriguing! This story of an old woman eternally searching for the Christ Child whom she passed up the opportunity to see at the nativity is new to me, and apparently subject to debate. The cover claims it is a "Russian folktale" but Russian reviewers are unfamiliar with it and suggest it is Polish or perhaps made up by Mikolaycak. I'm more inclined to believe the doubters as the story didn't seem to quite work for me, but that may be a flaw in the retelling. A woman called Babushka (although sh Intriguing! This story of an old woman eternally searching for the Christ Child whom she passed up the opportunity to see at the nativity is new to me, and apparently subject to debate. The cover claims it is a "Russian folktale" but Russian reviewers are unfamiliar with it and suggest it is Polish or perhaps made up by Mikolaycak. I'm more inclined to believe the doubters as the story didn't seem to quite work for me, but that may be a flaw in the retelling. A woman called Babushka (although she appears youngish in the early panels) who is famous for her housekeeping smells cinnamon one night and steps outside to see the Three Wise Men on their way to find baby Jesus. They invite her to come with them. Naturally she doesn't know what they're talking about so she declines and goes to bed. The next morning she is overcome with an obsessive desire to follow them and goes running off down the road. Naturally she doesn't and ends up wandering the earth for all eternity, dispensing the occasional treat to a tot to make up for never giving a gift to the Christ Child. Sounds like a big downer to me, although the tone of the book is more explanatory. Is Babushka being punished for prioritizing housekeeping over religion? That seems kind of unfair since she had no way of knowing what was going on. If not, why does she live forever? It's like some elements of the Martha story got mixed in with the Wandering Jew. Odd story, pretty illustrations.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Smilla's Sister

    I'm terribly sorry to disappoint you all people, but there is NO Russian legend or fairy tale about this Babushka character. Mr. Charles Mikolaycak is a great storyteller and I salute him for coming up with this adorable literary tale, but there isn't a single grain of Russian tradition behind it. I'm native Russian with background in folklore and religious studies and there's nothing anywhere near this tale in the whole body of Russian Christian mythology. The author's surname is Polish which m I'm terribly sorry to disappoint you all people, but there is NO Russian legend or fairy tale about this Babushka character. Mr. Charles Mikolaycak is a great storyteller and I salute him for coming up with this adorable literary tale, but there isn't a single grain of Russian tradition behind it. I'm native Russian with background in folklore and religious studies and there's nothing anywhere near this tale in the whole body of Russian Christian mythology. The author's surname is Polish which makes sense because the Poles are mainly Catholics, and Nativity legends play a big role in the Catholic culture, so my educated guess would be that he either reworked an original Polish tale (possibly, sincerely believing it was Russian although the difference between the two cultures is huge) or simply made it all up as a conscious case of literary mystification. However, Nativity stories, including the Three Wise Men, don't make part of the Russian Christian Orthodox culture, and there are definitely no Babushkas bringing gifts to Russian kids, we have Father Frost to do that! By the way, the book cover says that the author is also the illustrator, and I absolutely love the cover illustration with this adorable old lady, but the fact remains that what she wears is NOT Russian national dress (although it could be Polish, I'm no expert), her hair is done in a way no Russian village woman would wear it, she is portrayed next to a stove which is not Russian, and she's holding a broom of a kind totally unknown-of in Russia before 1991. The story's great, just please don't assume Russian kids know it or believe in non-existent magical Babushkas. This "legend" has in fact been the subject of much ridicule by the Russian Internet community lately as a fine example of how little the Westerners know about the Russian culture that they're prepared to believe any unrelated old tale. Again, the story's lovely, even if there isn't a drop of Russian folklore in it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alla

    Beautiful book! The story is intriguing and unique, but not Russian. I picked the book in a library being drawn to illustrations and curious about a story behind a young woman being called Babushka (grandmother). Glad I read the book, it was a interesting and the illustrations are wonderful. However, I doubt my children and I will want to read it again as I wasn't expecting to find a story about Jesus, don't link it to Russian culture and didn't find story very moving. Beautiful book! The story is intriguing and unique, but not Russian. I picked the book in a library being drawn to illustrations and curious about a story behind a young woman being called Babushka (grandmother). Glad I read the book, it was a interesting and the illustrations are wonderful. However, I doubt my children and I will want to read it again as I wasn't expecting to find a story about Jesus, don't link it to Russian culture and didn't find story very moving.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Tracked down for the illustrations, because Mikolaycak's art often reminds of that of Trina Schart Hyman, one of my very favorites. I am impressed by the art here, but as it turns out I don't find it particularly appealing. This is the Christmas story. The one also told in the Caldecott book Baboushka and the Three Kings. Neither credits an original source. "An old Russian folktale" doesn't seem to be true, based on research I did for Robbins' version. Not a bad book, but not recommended. Tracked down for the illustrations, because Mikolaycak's art often reminds of that of Trina Schart Hyman, one of my very favorites. I am impressed by the art here, but as it turns out I don't find it particularly appealing. This is the Christmas story. The one also told in the Caldecott book Baboushka and the Three Kings. Neither credits an original source. "An old Russian folktale" doesn't seem to be true, based on research I did for Robbins' version. Not a bad book, but not recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Hanson

    This story has a quite a bit of historical background that seemed very rushed in this book. I understand the basic premise, but I am curious to research further into why this book is a retelling of a story and what are the details of Babushka in the Russian culture. I think it's a lovely story that shares the importance of prioritizing what is most important, like going to see the King rather than tasks that can wait or don't need to be done at all. This story has a quite a bit of historical background that seemed very rushed in this book. I understand the basic premise, but I am curious to research further into why this book is a retelling of a story and what are the details of Babushka in the Russian culture. I think it's a lovely story that shares the importance of prioritizing what is most important, like going to see the King rather than tasks that can wait or don't need to be done at all.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karyn

    I don't know what it is about this book, but it has stayed with me all of my childhood and into adulthood that whenever I find it I have to read it again. Such intriguing illustrations, the story pulls you in until you too feel you can smell the scent of cinnamon. I don't know what it is about this book, but it has stayed with me all of my childhood and into adulthood that whenever I find it I have to read it again. Such intriguing illustrations, the story pulls you in until you too feel you can smell the scent of cinnamon.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I won't get into the discussion if this is or isn't a tale from Russian folklore, but I am interested enough in that aspect to do further research on the subject. What has always intrigued me about the story is the fact that Babushka is too busy and consumed with cleaning to lay that aside and follow the kings on their journey. Isn't folklore metaphorical and I always think about what are we too busy with in life to lay aside and devote our talents and energies to as what is the purpose of our li I won't get into the discussion if this is or isn't a tale from Russian folklore, but I am interested enough in that aspect to do further research on the subject. What has always intrigued me about the story is the fact that Babushka is too busy and consumed with cleaning to lay that aside and follow the kings on their journey. Isn't folklore metaphorical and I always think about what are we too busy with in life to lay aside and devote our talents and energies to as what is the purpose of our life. Isn't that what folklore is all about passing on a bit of wisdom via an intriguing story? Russian folklore or not, this motif makes me examine my busyness every time I encounter a version of the story. The illustrations are rich in this version and depict well the lifetime of searching as Babushka ages in these detailed illustrations.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    For some reason I confuse Babushka with Baba Yaga, even though I know they're not the same thing. I thought this was a interesting story about a woman who is visited by the Three Wise Men on their way to meet the Christ child. She spends her whole life looking for the child, and leaves behind "the scent of cinnamon and small candy or toy". Mostly I just love the gorgeous illustrations by Mikolaycak, who also illustrated my favorite version of "The Highwayman". For some reason I confuse Babushka with Baba Yaga, even though I know they're not the same thing. I thought this was a interesting story about a woman who is visited by the Three Wise Men on their way to meet the Christ child. She spends her whole life looking for the child, and leaves behind "the scent of cinnamon and small candy or toy". Mostly I just love the gorgeous illustrations by Mikolaycak, who also illustrated my favorite version of "The Highwayman".

  9. 4 out of 5

    ABC

    This is a based on a Russian folktales, I guess. A young woman meets the three wise men, but declines to go with them to see the Christ Child. She spends the rest of her life looking for them. I didn't like how the first wise man was referred to the one with the turban, the second one was the one with the ribbons, but the third one was referred to by the color of his skin--the black man. This is a based on a Russian folktales, I guess. A young woman meets the three wise men, but declines to go with them to see the Christ Child. She spends the rest of her life looking for them. I didn't like how the first wise man was referred to the one with the turban, the second one was the one with the ribbons, but the third one was referred to by the color of his skin--the black man.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bvlmc Buchanan Verplanck Elementary School

    The tale of a female “Santa” who missed her chance to follow the wise men and then has a change of heart and spends her life searching for the child king and leaving toys for children as gifts along the way.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alfajirikali

    Sort of creepy story for little ones.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    I recently discovered this artist because we have amazing first edition copies of Madeleine L'Engle novels with his cover art at the library. He's such a stunning illustrator! I recently discovered this artist because we have amazing first edition copies of Madeleine L'Engle novels with his cover art at the library. He's such a stunning illustrator!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

  14. 5 out of 5

    momma.hailey

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maitreya

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anajoy-rusticgirl

  18. 5 out of 5

    Barbie Korper McConnell

  19. 5 out of 5

    George

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kit

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

  24. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anna Sieler

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brenna Johnson

  27. 4 out of 5

    R. G. Nairam

    really weird to run across ANOTHER version of this story, claiming to be Russian, when it apparently...isn't. I brought it home and started reading before I realized I'd picked up the same story again. I wonder if it was this or the other one I read that came first? ??? really weird to run across ANOTHER version of this story, claiming to be Russian, when it apparently...isn't. I brought it home and started reading before I realized I'd picked up the same story again. I wonder if it was this or the other one I read that came first? ???

  28. 5 out of 5

    Danica Ingram

  29. 5 out of 5

    Margo Jantzi

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

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