Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.
This is a charming traditional Russian Christmas story. Dawn Casey’s retelling of the Babushka story is truly a wonderful piece of storytelling. The Babushka woman is similar to the American Santa Claus. She travels the world giving children a present. In many ways, the story is similar to that of Santa Claus.
Casey’s retelling is poetic without being strictly poetry. It is childlike, but there is wonderful humor there. In 15 pages, Babushka comes across as far more than an old woman obsessed with house work. There is kindness and wisdom there. The addition of a cat is brilliant.
The combination of Casey’s story telling with Hall’s artwork reminds one of the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials, but with a cute facto toned down just a little and the light factor turned up. The book gives off a feeling of warmth. Actually, it’s like Rankin/Bass crossed with a Russian lacquer box. Like the writing, there are wonderful details in the illustration – from the three wise men, to the sleigh, to the townsfolk.
It’s a wonderful book.
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley
This book is a little strange. It’s partly fiction, but the important aspects aren’t. They are, in fact, a rather good look at the sources and inspiration for Irving’s famous story, “The Headless Horseman”.
Latham portrays Washington Irving a la Gilliam’s Brothers Grimm, as a ghost or supernatural badass hunter, who relies more on his intelligence than his physical ability. It’s this part of the book that falls a little flat for the adult reader. The section might be more entertaining for a teen or pre-teen. The story itself used to frame the information that the book transmits is geared toward the younger audience, an adult might find the story amusing enough, but there is better fiction out there.
Latham makes connections between Irving’s story and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as well as other European traditions. There is even background itself to the area of Sleepy Hollow and early New York State history.
In short, I can see a teacher using this in a classroom to expand upon the legend of Sleepy Hollow. It also would make a good Halloween present. It also includes a further reading and viewing section.