The essence of all Russian mythology is encapsulated on one gorgeous,
astronomically expensive Fabergé egg, intended for the prince of Russia.
There’s the Firebird, democratic if reluctant granter of wishes, biding
his time before going up in a poof of smoke. There’s the Ice Dragon,
who snoozes through winter; when he wakes, spring comes. And there’s
Baba Yaga, the witchy meddler in destinies, who may or may not eat
children, but who certainly lives in a house with chicken legs. If only
these creatures existed just in myth, things would be a whole lot easier
for Cat and Elena, two girls who happen to look very similar and whose
paths coincide one day when a train breaks down on its way to the winter
ball in St. Petersburg. Elena is so poor she eats wild turnips and
acorns, if she’s lucky. Cat is rich and a little snobby, though she
doesn’t know it. And none of their adventures would have happened if it
weren’t for the egg (worth more than both their heads) going astray.
Gregory Maguire, the creator of Wicked, gives us not just
adventure but a memorable coterie of mythological creatures with a whole
lot of sass. Grade 6 & up.
"A beautiful reminder that fairy tales are at their best when they illuminate the precarious balance between lighthearted childhood and the darkness and danger of adulthood." --School Library Journal (starred review)
Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside, and there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying a cornucopia of food, untold wealth, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg--a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena's age. When the two girls' lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and--in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured--Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.