Friday, January 25, 2013

PPBF: Clever Katya


Welcome to another Perfect Picture Book Friday, inspired by children's picture book author, Susanna Hill.  Each Friday, we review a children's book of our choice and include links to crafts and other activities. Check out her comprehensive list of books categorized by subject for Teachers, Librarians and Parents here.




Here again is another Russian fairy tale for you to enjoy:





Retold by: Mary Hoffman
Illustrated by: Marie Cameron
Publishers: Barefoot Books
Date: 1998

Appeals to: ages 6-11

Themes: Old Russia, Russian fairy tales, cleverness, "truth-wins-out," riddles.

Jacket flap: "What is the fastest thing in the world, what is the fattest, what is the softest, and what is the most precious? Come to me tomorrow with your answers."

When Katya's father, Ivan, and his wealthy but selfish brother Dmitri disagree about which of them owns a newly born foal, it falls to the Tsar of all Russia to settle the case. The Tsar decides to do so by setting the brothers a riddle. Both Ivan and Dmitri are perplexed. They return home to seek advice, and Ivan turns to seven-year-old Katya for help.

As soon as Katya hears the riddle, she knows exactly what to do. The events that follow change all of their lives, and the wit and courage of this spirited young heroine make her a truly inspiring and memorable character.

Why I like this book: Again, I am a sucker for fairy tales; Russian ones in particular. This one has a main character who reminds me of my Russian born daughter. She, too, is full of spunk and spirit!
In the back of the book, the author shares how she came to re-write the story, and also reveals what influences the creation of such tales.

I just love the clear, bright illustrations that reflect the art and culture of Russia...well done!

It seems to be no longer in print, but you can check it out in a library, or, purchase it for as little as one penny on Amazon, here!


Links to activities:



Lesson plans, other tales and fractured fairy tale ideas here.


Everything you've ever wanted to know about fairy tales here.

22 comments:

  1. Jarm, I love the books you recommend. And I like the art, too. Our youngest daughter had a Russian friend in 3rd grade, Daria (pronounced Dasha), but you prob. already knew that. Her mom spoke no English, and dad very broken. The family was here on a work training exchange at GM. Daria called one time in the middle of a tornado warning-the sky was actually green. I remember telling Daria to let me talk to dad or mom. They lived on the 3rd floor of an apartment nearby us. Dad came on and I was trying to tell him to get to safety--- there was a tornado---danger---go downstairs in hall---bad wind---I actually blew in the phone.....I laugh now....he probably laughed too at the crazy woman whistling in his ear. (The tornado skipped over our houses and took off the corner of a mall roof about 1 mile away.) My daughter and Daria had no problem communicating. They just played.

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    1. What a memorable story to write down and share, Laura! I had a Yugoslavian friend down the street who spoke nothing but her native language, I had a smattering of Russian and Slovak (my heritage). Our sons were the same age, which is what drew us to one another. For about a year, we communicated with sign language and a few Slavic words. It was such an adventure! Now she understands and speaks English well, but we are both far too busy to spend time together! ;-{

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  2. I love folk tales! And this one sounds terrific! Of course, I'm dying to know what clever Katya's solutions was! I guess I'll have to find the book and read it so I'll know :) Thanks for sharing, Jarm!

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    1. I hope you find a copy, Susanna. I won't spoil the fun by giving you the answer here!

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  3. Oh, I really love this Russian story, Jarm. And, I'm going to have read the book to find the answer. It takes a child to know -- love that message. The illustrations look lovely!

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    1. Yes, Pat, I think the illustrations drew me to read the book!

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  4. Oh, riddles are my favorite! This book sounds like a winner. Thanks, Jarm!

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    1. You are welcome, Amy...I know you will enjoy it!

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  5. The cover of this book is absolutely stunning. I like fairy tale retellings, too and will look for this one. Thanks!

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    1. Yes, I was attracted to the bright colors...very Russian! Thanks for stopping, Carrie.

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  6. It's always interesting to see picture books that introduce children to an aspect of another culture. I love the vibrant illustrations. Thanks for sharing the book!

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  7. I love, love anything to do with Russia, folk tales, retold stories... ooohhh I am in heaven. I have got to read this to see what Katya came up with. Love the illustrations. Thank you for sharing Jarm.

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  8. Oh, I love those Russian-inspired illustrations. I love Russian writers: Pushkin, Tolstoy. Russia's national literature is so unique. This looks like a great read.

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    1. When I graduate my two from HS next year, I'm going to submerse myself in the classics. Russian literature has depth...looking forward to reading it! Thanks for commenting, Kirsten.

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  9. Now I have to track down that book and find the answer to the riddle!

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    1. Haha! She is definitely clever...you will enjoy her solution, Sandi.

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  10. This looks like a lovely book, especially the illustrations.

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I would love to have you comment...thanks!

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