Friday, January 11, 2013

PPBF: The Little Humpbacked Horse



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!





A Russian tale retold by: Margaret Hodges
Pictures by: Chris Conover
Publisher: Farrar• Straus• Giroux
Date: 1980

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.


Our two children are adopted from Russia, so this subject is near and dear to my heart.  It is sad to think of all the children identified by their families, and ready to be adopted, but are unable, because of the change in the Russian adoption laws.  I feel for them!





20 comments:

  1. This book looks wonderful, Jarm! I love books that draw you right in with once upon a time, or long ago... I think in this case I might like the little horse better than Ivan, but that's just me :) Thanks for a great addition to our list!

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    1. From what I understand, we should never begin our stories with "Once upon a time..." Go figure! I feel as tho' I am about to take a vacation when I hear those words. The little horse is adorable, isn't he??

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  2. I love the font for the title - will have to get this one too!

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    1. Yes, it fits with the theme, doesn't it, Julie?

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  3. Jarm, I am captivated by Russian folkore and other books. Studied Russian history and language in college. This is a must read for me. Nice message.

    If you haven't read Kristin Hannah's adult novel "Winter Garden," look it up on Amazon. There is a fairy tale told by the Russian mother within the book, that isn't quite what it seems. My all time favorite book!

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    1. You would be an expert then, on all things Russian...super! "Winter Garden" sounds intriguing. I'll check it out...thanks, Pat!

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  4. I love fairy tales, too. The cover is beautiful.

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    1. Yes, Janet, the cover attracted me, too!

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  5. My son loves fairy tales and legends, so I'll look for this one. Thanks!

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    1. You are welcome, Carrie...hope he enjoys it!

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  6. Ahh, fairytales. I'm such a sucker for them

    ~Debbie

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    1. Yes, what is it about them that make them timeless? Because they reflect human nature so well? Or because everything turns out in the end?

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  7. Oh I love Russian folk tales. My husband and I travelled through Russia a number of years ago, just before the Berlin Wall came down. It was amazing and memories that last a lifetime. Thankyou for this, Jarm, and also thanks Pat, for your book suggestion to.

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    1. What a wonderful opportunity! We visited Moscow and the surrounding area twice when we adopted our children. The Russian people have amazing tenacity!

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  8. I love fairy tales, and I think it is because I feel connected to the generations of parents and children that have shared and re-told them over the years! Nice PPBF choice.

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    1. Thanks, Cathy...I think that is why I love them, too!

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    1. Yes, since I am a visual learner, the first thing that attracts me is the cover. This one is no exception!

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  10. Fairy tales are a favorite of mine. Thanks for the review!

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    1. You are welcome, Penny...thanks for stopping by!

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

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