Review of Baba Yaga’s Assistant, by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll

baba_yagas_assistant_largeBaba Yaga’s Assistant

by Marika McCoola
illustrated by Emily Carroll

Candlewick Press, 2015. 132 pages.
Starred Review
2015 Cybils Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels Finalist

This graphic novel is lots of fun. Masha is a modern teenage girl who has heard stories of Baba Yaga from her grandmother. Both Masha’s mother and grandmother cleverly escaped from her.

So when Masha’s father marries again and the new stepmother has a particularly bratty stepsister for Masha to babysit, Masha decides instead to answer an ad to be Baba Yaga’s assistant.

Masha has stories of Baba Yaga to guide her. She must enter Baba Yaga’s chicken-legged house, then pass three tests. But when the third test involves cooking three children for dinner, and one of those children is the naughty new stepsister – things take a turn.

I loved the way this book gives the fairy tale themes a modern twist. Such as when the stepsister throws down a washcloth in Baba Yaga’s bathroom and it begins to become a lake – so they almost drown.

Baba Yaga has a gory reputation, and despite her scary exterior, this book puts a light-hearted spin on things. Ultimately, this is the story of a clever girl finding her own way, while getting some healing for her heart.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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