The Story of Babushka is a delightful tale of being true to yourself and finding your place in the world. The Matryoshka (Russian Nesting Doll) is a charming symbol of Russian folk culture and represents the beautiful layers of women. In this story, we meet the lovely Babushka made up of five unique dolls. Each doll is special. Together, they make up a wonderfully strong woman of worth.
- Antonia is the external beauty of Babushka. She travels the world with grace and loveliness.
- Loretta is richly adorned and symbolises wealth. She is generous with what she has and tries to look after those around her.
- Paula has many talents. She is creative and hard-working. She gives each task her all.
- Viola is wise. She uses her intelligence to solve problems and help others.
- Mary is the heart of the Babushka. She is full of love, caring and kindness.
Babushka wonders about the meaning of life and the five dolls decide to go off and search for their own true purpose. Eventually, only loving Mary is left. She feels incomplete and very alone. She knows she must go out into the world to find her other parts in order to feel whole again. Along the way, Mary meets with many challenges and faces the harsh side of the world. She learns that she must follow the wind and trust its guidance. In the end, it becomes clear that the dolls are so much better together and love will always unite them. Babushka learns an important lesson about being true to herself and what she knows to be right, appreciating who she is, and not being blinded by the deception of others. She learns that it is the combination of all of her positive qualities that make her wonderful.
Ana Beatriz Marques’ illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and bring this story to life. The gentle animals of the forest create a community for Babushka and draw the reader in. There is so much to look at and the friendly faces make this powerful story even more appealing.
The Story of Babushka is appropriate for a wide range of ages. The chapters are short and accessible, with manageable vocabulary and appealing illustrations to break up the text. However, the key messages of the story are strong. There is so much scope for discussion and exploration of the layers we have within ourselves. I asked my own children what layers they would have if they were Russian Nesting Dolls. After a lovely discussion, traits such as enthusiasm, positivity, kindness, wisdom, an adventurous spirit and love came out on top. Creativity, fitness and resilience are also really important to them. They added these characteristics to some lovely Babushka colouring sheets (my son decided to make his own and they ended up turning into snowmen).
Like the Matryoshka, The Story of Babushka is absolutely beautiful and has many layers of meaning and detail. Children are sure to be drawn to it and want to read it again and again.
Thank you to Catherine Flores for this gorgeous book! I’m looking forward to sharing it with the children of Farsley Farfield Primary School.
About the Author: Since quitting her full-time job at a branding communication agency in Zurich, Catherine has gone on to become a successful freelance designer and a children’s author. She lives on the small island of Madeira with her family, spending her time growing vegetables in her garden and working for clients around the world.
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