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Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse

Review

Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse

One day it finally comes to an end for Natasha or “Nasty” as her high school peers call her. She can no longer endure the unkind words, the soap in the mouth, the names. Her mother and father give her these things too and she is filled with shame. It might be easier to stay or it might be easier to go, but to go where? There is no destination. “Nowhere becomes my destination.” (Page 18).

"Yolen has created another magical tale from pieces of this and that, pieces that are put together with her exquisite free verse."

Natasha narrates her own story as she tells about her long journey into the woods. There is hunger, wind, cold, stones, sounds and trees. There is also a shift within her, almost a feeling of peace. Fear slips away and “The forest opens and every tree holds out its leafy arms.” (Page 46) She will soon meet Baba Yaga, the crone, the witch, the one who eats children. She will see the house in the forest with its’ chicken legs. She will meet Vasilisa, so light and lovely, who at first feels like a sister. She will see the prince. She will learn to drive, but not in the way you think --- not with a broom either. Baba Yaga is full of magic and she’s certainly not old-fashioned.  She drives, like she flies, her own way. She becomes a mentor for Natasha as they share books, poetry, nature and the secrets of the great forest. “I’ve learned to write poetry, telling the truth through metaphor, simile, straight-forward lies.” (Page 127)

Yolen has created another magical tale from pieces of this and that, pieces that are put together with her exquisite free verse. Her tale of a young girls’ journey is fantasy, allegorical and real. It is a heart-breaking story with little slips of humor. It is a terrifying story of abuse and an inspiring telling of becoming one’s own heroine. Here is yet another amazing book to be added to the over 300 this wonderful author has all ready brought to us. She says we all have our stories and this one, for sure, is so timely.

                        You think you know this story.
                        You hope you know this story.
                        You want to tell this story,
                        Perhaps now you will.
                        (Page 134)
 

Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts on October 30, 2018

Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse
by Jane Yolen