Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Fridays, where we review picture books which we deem worthy of mention. This concept was created by Susanna Hill, and is a helpful resource for librarians, teachers and parents. For a list of all books reviewed so far, along with activities to complement them, click here.
Today I am reviewing another of Margaret Hodges picture books. She is an expert at retelling fables and fairy tales!
Pictures by: Chris Conover
Publisher: Farrar• Straus• Giroux
Genre: Russian Fairy Tale
Ages: 7 to 10
Themes: fairy tales, Russia, horses, Tsars
Opening Lines: Long ago, when the Tsar ruled Russia and peasants worked their small farms, there lived an old man who has three sons. The oldest son, Danilo, was said to be the likeliest of the lot. The second son, Gavrilo, could pass in a crowd without being noticed one way or the other. But the youngest so , Ivan, was thought to be stupid because, when his day's work was done, he seldom rode into town but simply went home, lay down on the stove, and fell asleep at once. He was called Ivan the Fool.
Jacket Flap: When Ivan the Fool receives the little humpbacked horse in return for freeing the magnificent white mare with the golden mane, his fortunes change for the better. Against his faithful mount's advice, however, he steals the feather of a firebird, which brings him all sorts of bad luck. Fortunately, the humpbacked horse, armed with the wisdom that the morning always brings, is able to help Ivan accomplish impossible tasks, triumph over his enemies, and, as all heroes must, win a beautiful Tsarevna for his bride.
With simplicity and grace, Margaret Hodges retells this Russian tale of a man who was considered a fool and his little horse who "frisked up his heels and clapped his ears for joy."
Why I like this book: I love quests, fairy tales and the Russian culture, so, this is a three-in-one keeper! The illustrations, which seem to be pale watercolors, are delicate, and reflect the Russian culture well.
Here are some activities to complement the book:
Russian fairy tales here and here
About the country and culture of Russia here and here and here.