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Friday, 4 February 2011

Fairy-Tale Friday: From Russia with Love #5

Each week Irena @ This Miss Loves To Read hosts Friday is for Fairy-Tales.

It is an opportunity to share a love of the fairy-tale genre throughout the blogosphere and discuss your favourite character, your childhood memories, new authors and all time favourites. You can find out more by visiting her POST.

Ever since I read Marcus Sedgwick’s Blood Red Snow White, I have wanted to read Arthur Ransome’s Old Peter’s Russian Tales. If you’ve read Blood Red, you’ll understand why. If you haven’t, then I suggest you add it to your wish list. I never realised how poetic fairy-tales could be until I read it.

So I am going to read one of Old Peter’s Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome each week and then share it with you here.

Post 1: The Hut in the Forest, The Silver Dish and the Transparent Apple

Post 2: Sadko
Post 3: Frost
Post 4: The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship

Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga is an old witch, with iron teeth who lived in a hut with chicken legs. In this story, there is a young girl who lives with her widowed father. After a few years her father remarries. He marries Baba Yaga’s sister. She is a wicked stepmother if ever there was one. Life with the stepmother was horrible for the young girl who was made to starve.

The girl befriends a little mouse and he warns her that her stepmother is Baba Yaga’s sister. He tells her if the old lady send her to her aunt to come and find the mouse and he will help her escape the witch. The girl gives her crusts to the mouse and so she has proven she is kind-hearted.

Of course, the girl is sent to Baba Yaga and she meets the mouse on the road. He tells her to pick up everything she finds on her journey because she will know how to use it because she has a kind heart. So she travels through the forest to Baba Yaga’s hut on chicken legs (Yes, very strange) and picks up all the things she finds – a handkerchief, a bottle of oil, a loaf, and scraps of meat.

She meets her aunt and her aunt pretends to be kind asking her to weave at the loom. The girl does but because she helps the serving girl, the dog, the cat and the tree out of the goodness of her heart with the things she finds, they help her escape.

Each of the things has a use that only the girl would notice and share because she is kind and pure of heart. It is another tale about how being good and kind will protect you from evil.

My thoughts:

Having read quite a few tales now, I am starting to see the recurring theme of the wicked stepmother and the weak father. It is all very Lady Macbeth. I also find it interesting that the children hardly ever have names. I wonder if this is to keep them feeling universal. Any thoughts?

I loved the talking animals in this one. It somehow made it feel more magical than the other Russian tales I’ve read so far.

Next week: The Cat who became Head Forester...


Vivienne said...

Funny that the children don't seem to have names. I can only imagine that he wanted the reader to be able to see themselves in that character.

Can't wait to read Blood Red,Snow White. It is on my pile!

Didn't realise that Arthur Ransome wrote short stories too. I read Swallows and Amazons last year and found it OK, but my eyes would glaze over at the constant sailing references.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Great post, Becky!

Baba Yaga is wicked, alright, but I'm glad the girl escaped!

Yes, it IS all very Lady Macbeth. The wicked stepmother/weak father is probably the one thing that bothers me about fairytales because some children actually believe that all stepmothers are wicked, so in this respect, fairytales are not the best example to children, I'm afraid.

I suppose the lack of name for children is to keep them universal, I agree. But it's nice to know a name very now and then.

Thank you for the wonderful post!

Nina said...

I am adding this and Old Peter’s Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome on my list. Baba Yaga sounds scary and not a very attractive woman. lol. Good thing that she's kind to everyone and that they help her escape. wooh. ;)

Bookworm1858 said...

I'm not sure why the kids don't have names; I think of the Brothers Grimm stories and I feel like usually there are names, such as Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella. However it seems like in fairy tales, names aren't that important unless they are (like in Rumpelstiltskin)

asamum said...

I love this feature. Thanks :D