Monday, September 14, 2020

Review: The Story of Babushka by Christine Flores

by Catherine Flores
ACL Creative Studio
Children's Fiction
120 pages

Babushka wants to find out the meaning of life so she sends her bodies out of the forest and into the world to search for answers. But there is a hurdle to overcome before all of the bodies can reunite and return to the forest.


The Babushka doll, also known as a "Matryoshka" or "Russian Nesting Doll", is a traditional Russian toy first made over 100 years ago. The doll has come to symbolize Russian folk culture, as well as the complex and beautiful layers of women. This is the story of one very special doll, with five bodies that together make the Babushka: There was the outermost body, Antonia. She was pure beauty and everyone who saw her raved about her good looks. Beneath that body of beauty hid the second body, Loretta, who was richly adorned. She wore gold ornaments, and her robe was decorated with many different gems that glittered like the ocean on a sunny day. Hidden within the rich body was Paula the body that held all the talents. Whatever Paula did, she was sure to succeed. She knew how to work and always did so with joy and determination. Under the shell of the talented body was Viola, the body of wisdom. Viola knew a lot about the world and learned very quickly. She was always full of brilliant ideas and had clever solutions for every problem. The last body, the innermost and smallest of all, was Mary, the embodiment of love. Mary had a compassionate heart and was very helpful. She had the special ability to dry tears and mend broken hearts. All these bodies together formed the beautiful Babushka.

Reading this book, your child will learn about:

– The value of friendship and love.
– That financial wealth alone cannot make someone happy.
– Not to judge outer appearance.
– To recognize their value and much more



I've always had a love for these dolls, enjoy the Russian culture, and was thrilled to get my hands on this story.

Babushka is a nesting doll and holds five layers—beauty, wealth, talent, wisdom and love. She lives alone in the forest and has a nice life. Still, she wonders if there should be more meaning to everything she does. When the chance comes for her to spread out into the world and search for the meaning of her existence, she grabs it. The results are different than what she expects.

This tale is told in a more traditional story telling form. In many ways, it's like a picture book. There are bright and bold illustrations showcasing each part of the tale, allowing listeners to visually follow along. On the other hand, there is quite a bit of text, making this more appropriate for readers, who already have a good grip on their words. And they will need it because the vocabulary is definitely headed toward the recommended age group of 8 to 12. Still, I see the story as a wonderful read-aloud for slightly younger readers, especially since I believe this one will hold reader's interest when it is shared by an older individual. Plus, there are psychological meanings behind the layers of Babushka and I'm not sure these fit either audience and edge toward someone older. So, I'm not sure which age group fits with this best. Not that this means it's not a lovely tale. It is.

The story flows like a fairy tale as Babushka lets layer after layer go. It is interesting, opens up to discussions and thought, and has a wonderful message. I would have loved to have seen the layers coming apart instead of only viewing them whole, especially since many young readers won't necessarily know what a nesting doll is or how it works. But it is a treat to follow the adventure, anyway. And there is tons of heart in the story, the kind that make a listener want to cuddle up to their parent as the adventure unfolds. 

1 comment:

Sherry Ellis said...

Russian nesting dolls are fun. I have a nice little collection of them. I had no idea that each one represented a virtue. And I also didn't know there was a character named Babushka. I only thought of that as a head covering.