Koshka’s Tales: Stories from Russia
Immediately engaging from the outset is James Mayhew’s deft weaving together of a handful of Russian folktales using Koshka the story-spinning feline of the title as narrator.
We meet this cat at the end of the first tale in which Tsar Saltan marries one of three sisters, Militrissa, who promises to bear him seven sons, and is tricked several times by her jealous siblings.
As a result he has her tossed into the sea in a casket but Militrissa, along with one baby son whom she has hidden up her sleeve, do not perish and eventually end up on the far distant island of Buyan. And it’s there they meet the wise Koshka and before long she begins to tell the new arrivals The Tale of the Snowmaiden.
Thereafter comes another story telling of an encounter with a merchant who acts as a link between Tsar Saltan and his wife on the island.
The merchant returns taking back on subsequent trips each of Koshka’s tales, the others being The Tale of Sadko the Minstrel,
the Tale of Ivan, the Grey Wolf and the Firebird,
The Tale of Vassilisa the Fair and Baba-Yaga, to the Tsar until eventually he is convinced to set sail himself and find his wife.
James’s illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. I love the ornamental folklore inspired motifs that border the text and the beautiful richly coloured side panels and full-page illustrations that make every page turn a delight.
A terrific way to introduce youngsters to the riches of Russian folklore; this book would make a great present and is perfect for sharing on chilly wintry days and nights.