by Marika McCoola, illustrated Emily Carroll
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There are some scary images, but really nothing else. It’s currently in our Teen Graphic Novels, but I’m going to move it to Middle Reader Graphic Novels.
I didn’t know I needed a graphic novel about Baba Yaga, but I really did. And this is the graphic novel I needed.
Masha’s mom died when she was little and her father was often gone with work, so she was raised on her grandmother’s love and stories of Baba Yaga. So, when her father decides to get remarried to a woman with an absolutely horrible child, Masha decides to take her chances in the woods with Baba Yaga. Who is everything that you would like Baba Yaga to be. Horrible, terrifying, magical… it’s wonderful.
Masha has to go through a series of tests before she can become Baba Yaga’s assistant. And it’s the power of the stories that her grandmother told that gets her through those tests.
On the basic level as a magical story, it’s a lot of fun. The young children are sufficiently horrible, and Masha is competent and cool-headed and smart. Her dad’s a jerk, but that’s almost to be expected. It’s a very female-centric story; there’s only a couple of male characters, and they are only playing minor parts. But what I liked best was that it was STORIES (not histories or biographies or facts) that got Masha through the trials. The stories helped her problem-solve. The stories gave her the courage to go on.
And that’s something we all need more of.