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Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave
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Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  1,021 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
Sweet, lovely Vasilisa lives with her jealous stepmother and stepsisters on the edge of a dark forest inhabited by the evil witch Baba Yaga. One night the stepmother sends Vasilisa to visit Baba Yaga, an errand from which the gentle girl has little chance of returning alive. "An engaging text and accomplished paintings set this version apart....A stylized and classy offeri ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published May 19th 1994 by HarperCollins
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Vassilisa’s story is quite reminiscent of the Cinderella folktale, so much so that I'd call it a Russian version of it, but it also has a sprinkle of elements from other tales such as Cupid & Psyche (the seed sorting by animal helpers so Vassilisa isn't punished) and Hansel & Gretel (the hut of Baba Yaga as well as the old witch herself evoke the one in the German tale). That's quite a nice mix, and the gorgeous artwork by Japanese-American artist Kinuko Y. Craft (love her style!) makes ...more
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lisa  Skripps
Oct 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Marianna Mayer’s Russian version of Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave, is a fascinating rendition of the tale of Cinderella. Vasilisa is a beautiful young woman who lives with her hideously cruel stepmother and stepsisters. Vasilisa’s stepmother sends Vasilisa to Baba Yaga’s house to get candles, knowing that Baba Yaga is a horrifying witch who enjoys devouring the people she comes across. Baba Yaga gives Vasilisa impossible tasks to finish. If Vasilisa does not finish her tasks, she will end up ...more
Feb 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
A Russian version of the Cinderella tale, this one finds Vasilisa being sent to Baba Yaga's bone house to fetch a candle. Vasilisa takes the doll her real mother made for her, to whom she has whispered all her secrets while growing up. Baba Yaga knows who Vasilisa is and who her step-mother is and tells Vasilisa if she cleans and cooks and separates the wheat from the chaff, she will spare her life for one day. Vasilisa and her doll complete the tasks and the next day Baba Yaga sets another impo ...more
Mar 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This book is a retelling of a Russian folktale. It's reminiscent of Cinderella and the story is so rich with morality, love, magic, and danger that it is a perfect example of a fairy tale. I loved the gorgeous illustrations; Kinuko Y. Craft has an amazing way to weave the true personality of the characters into her pictures. Baba Yaga is frightening, but wise; Vasilia's stepmother is beautiful, but cold-hearted.

We really enjoyed reading this story together. I've noticed that there are several bo
May 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Баба Яга is one of my favorite "children's" stories. For people unfamiliar, Baba Yaga stories are the slavic version of the Grimm Fairy Tales. So, even though we read them to children, they are really symbolic of struggles that adults have in every day life.

Yes, I read Alison Baba Yaga and Vasilisa dozens of times as she was growing up. This story is very much like Hansel and Gretel but, with little, cultural twists that make the stories very slavic.

You may not want to own it,(I do) but you shou
Sep 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Actual rating: 3.5

I'm going to try and read most of the available (printed, most likely) versions of this tale. This one gets props for the beautiful illustrations, although I think the human faces (particularly those of our heroine) are lacking.

Baba Yaga, the doll, the horsemen, and most of the sets/scenery are drawn absolutely magnificently. There's nothing special about the writing, but it gets the story out there. It's serviceable, with the occasional breathtaking illustration.
Nov 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-books
Be warned, Baba Yaga kind of scared me!
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This writing/illustrating team is incredible. K. Y. Craft was meant to illustrate fairytales and M Mayer was meant to retell them.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
The illustrations were great but I found the story to be unoriginal.
This is the second variation I’ve read about this particular tale. This time Vasilisa is a beautiful young woman rather than a plain little girl. But her kindness, sweetness, decency, generosity and courage are the same sort found in the Too Nice of Baba Yaga and the Wise Doll. As the witch points out after one of her copious meals, Vasilisa is an excellent cook and remarkable housekeeper but rather short on personality.

Still, Vasilisa is brave (or incredibly docile—take your pick). She walks i
Cierra Garrison
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Personal reaction: I chose this book because of it's relation to Cinderella. I was curious how much they would differ/be the same. Some differences are that the Cinderella character, named Vasilisa's mother died when she was 8 years old and left her with a magic doll, the character of Baba Yaga who is described as "A witch who ate people like others ate chicken", the various tasks Vasilisa was to complete. This version of Cinderella is most definitely a lot darker and scarier than the version mo ...more
Marina Minina
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pictures-book
This picture book is based on authentic Russian folk tale – Василиса Прекрасная (transl. Vasilisa the Beautiful). The text is similar to the plot of the tale Fair Vasillissa and Baba Yaga by Downing (read the summary of the book above). But Marianna added different details, for example, '' in the darkness no one could see the evil smile of satisfaction upon her lips''; “she prepared many more dishes…enough for a tzar.” Downing wrote “food enough for ten men.” In comparison to Downing, in the tex ...more
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an adaptation of traditional Russian folk/fairy-tale for readers aged 6-10. It is a good way to introduce Russian culture to American children. The illustrations are like realistic paintings that capture all the qualities of the characters in this classic good versus evil morality legend. It may be a bit "dark" for some children-- I would worry about it causing nightmares for some kids. It follows the brave and beautiful Vasilisa, who is left in the care of a cruel stepmother (similar th ...more
An absolutely beautiful picture book, a version of the Cinderella story, but with a far braver and more active heroine than Cinders. Baba Yaga is a cruel witch who is in many Eastern European stories; she lives in a house made of bones and in some stories travels in a pestle and mortar rather than on a broom.

The jewel-coloured and highly detailed illustrations make this a really special book; one to treasure, and would be a great resource for Primary teachers. I would use this as a resource to
Margaret Chind
This is an interesting read. I picked it out because of the cover illustration and others I had seen online and other than being a fairy tale I did not know what to expect. This is not a light fairy tale, but more like the violent and scary ones that you come across in classics. I had never read nor heard of this one before. While it starts in a very similar manner of Cinderella, there are so many more elements to it before she gets her prince. The illustrations are lovely, and the appropriate o ...more
Cassie Olds-benton
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This version of Baba Yaga and Vasilisa is like Cinderella that it has the evil step-mother and her two daughters who treat her cruely, however that is all. Vasilisa is sent to Baba Yaga's very scary hut deep in the dark forest by her step-mother, because rarely does anyone return alive. But Vasilisa is protected by a little doll and together they outwit Baba Yaga to return home unharmed. The illustrations are Beautiful, but look out for the one of Baba Yaga herself! It is pretty scary looking fo ...more
Kris Underwood
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a children's book, but holy crap. The illustrations are insanely scary-well, the ones of Baba Yaga and her hut. It creeped me out bad. No telling what it would do to a 6 year old. It's basically a re-telling of the Cinderella story.The illustrations are awesome. Very detailed, lush illustrations in that distinctive Russian design. Vasalisa and Baba Yaga are an eastern european story/myth. I've read a few stories on both of them (and actually heard some from family when growing up), but t ...more
Megan B
May 05, 2008 rated it did not like it
I got this book because I liked another book done by the same author and because it was Russian-themed. The pictures terrified my kids; we didn't even get through the first few pages together. Let's just say that the story started with a cannibalistic forest witch who makes her fence railing from human bones, the obligatory wicked stepmother and stepsisters, and went downhill from there. I finished the book on my own and it never got better, it actually got slightly worse. Glowing skulls, murder ...more
Melissa Mcavoy
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
A gorgeous version of the tale. Vasilisa is essentially a Russian Cinderella. In this story she must enter the massively creepy home of Baba Yaga and deal with the witch. The scary elements of the story make it more appropriate for, and more interesting to, children 8 and up. While Vasilisa doesn't have a fairy godmother, she does have the gift of her mother's love, personified in a hand made doll. An intriguing and satisfying take on a classic story. In this version the mother's love and Vasili ...more
Another version of Cinderella is what came to my mind when I read the description of this story. The pictures are vivid and descriptive. The clothing, and evil things that are included in the stories' illustrations make the book worth while! A story of a young woman whose only companion is a doll that her mother made her before she passed away lives with her stepmom and evil sisters. She's sent on a journey to Baba Yaga's house, and uses her wit and companion to outsmart her!
May 30, 2010 rated it liked it
This book is chock-full of all the classic (and stereotypical) elements of a fairy tale: a girl in danger, and evil (and ugly)witch woman, a stepmother . . . .hard for me to get behind a book that perpetuates negative messages like that. The illustrations have amazing detail.

I was assigned a version of this story in my high school drama class; we "competed" for the honor of reading a story to kids. Many years later, I'm not sure I'd choose to read this book to young kids. Pretty scary.
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
My 9 yr. old was fascinated by this story. Pretty scary pictures of Baba Yaga was probably the cause of that. And the lighted skulls. And the grisly end to the wicked characters (not Baba Yaga). Anyway, far more like a true Grimm tale, not at all as pleasant as Disney's fairy tales, which is why I liked it so much. The pictures were fabulous by the way. It made me want to read Enchanted by Orson Scott Card again.
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids
The pictures of Baba Yaga are a little scary (we'll see if my kids wake me up with nightmares tonight), but beautiful. For the first 98% of it, the story is great, focussing on Vasilisa's steadfast equanimity and kindness in the face of unkindness. I wish it had ended with her living and working with her adoptive mother rather than going on to be a Cinderella marry-the-prince (or in the case, marry-the-tsar) story.
Meg McGregor
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fairy-tales
"Vasilisa was kindness itself!"

I love that sentence!

Beautifully illustrated by Craft with an extremely intricate and detailed retelling of the classic story, this is a story not to be missed!

I must admit that all the discussions of the fine Russian delicacies Vasilisa cooked for Baba Yaga made me very hungry!!
Oct 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Dark, detailed and delightfully distasteful, this splendid version of the gruesome Russian Cinderella folktale has thrilled and enthralled our girls for years.

You can listen in on our chat about this book on our Just One More Book! Children's Book Podcast.
I'm reading the Blood Bound series, which mentioned Baba Yaga, who I had never heard of before, and then I ran into this at my library! I considered it fate and had to pick it up. It's interesting to read about a woman-centered fairy tale, and I liked the Cinderella cross-over, which no prince needed.
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most beautifully illustrated children's books I have ever read. The story is serious and engaging and imparts a great lesson. The illustration is pure art. I am careful about which picture books I purchase because it is easy to want to buy too many. This, book, however, is a must own.
Jan 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful rendition of the story. The artwork is amazing. The main picture on each page is incredibly detailed and realistic while the side pictures are stylized artwork. Yes, the story is terrible and Baba Yaga is one scary creature, but who said Russian Folk Tales were sweet?
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful tale of a brave girl vasilisa who embarks on a journey to the dreaded witch Baba Yaga to get a light at the request of her step mother. A must read tale of a girl and her little doll that changed her destiny.
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Marianna Mayer lives in Roxbury, Connecticut.
"I see folktales and myths as humankind's first stories," says Marianna Mayer. "They are a kind of collective dreaming, filled with timeless symbols and images we can all relate to, regardless of age or culture. And, much as an oyster must be disturbed by a grain of sand in order for the pearl to be created, I often choose to retell stories in which I
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