Marushka’s Egg by Elsa Okon Rael starts out as an Easter story. Marushka and her mother get up with the sun to make Easter bread. While the bread rises, Marushka walks, all by herself, to the market to buy an egg for the Easter loaf. She has a penny, and she wants to buy a perfect egg.
At the market, a cheerful old woman shows her a magic egg. Looking into the egg through a tiny hole, Marushka sees a beautiful scene. She buys the egg – and is magically whisked into the world inside! In an instant, the world in the egg changes into a place of skulls and scorpions and toadstools, and the cheerful old woman turns into Baba Yaga. Marushka is her prisoner in the hut on chicken legs.
When the world changes, the story changes, too. It’s no longer an Easter story. It becomes a traditional Baba Yaga story. Marushka is forced to serve Baba Yaga, cooking and cleaning and caring for the other prisoners. By her goodness and kindness, she befriends the others: Katya the cat, Cronus the crow, and Ilya the bear. Over time, Marushka grows in wisdom and courage. Eventually, she is able to free all of them and escape from the hut and from the egg, back into the world.
I expected that, on Marushka’s return, she would come back to Easter, but it wasn’t so. She simply returns home.
If I Were Looking …
If I were looking for a Baba Yaga story, Marushka’s Egg would be high on my list. It’s beautifully told, and the art by Joanna Wezyk is just amazing. The illustrations are bright and cheerful. And they’re all speckled in a way that suggests that magic is in the air. It’s a charming book in every respect.
But if I were looking for an Easter book, I’m not sure that this is one that I’d choose. If I wanted Easter witches, there’s Tekla’s Easter. If I wanted Easter magic, there’s Rechenka’s Eggs. There’s just not enough Easter in Marushka’s Egg to make it an Easter book. At least, not for me.
Easter Picture Books Keep Pascha Present: You might be tempted to put the Easter picture books away during Bright Week. Don’t do it! By keeping them out, you’ll help your little one understand that Easter lasts more than a single day.
Six Exceptional Multicultural Easter Books: If you’re looking for books that show the ways that people celebrate Easter, look here.
17 essential picture books for Orthodox Christian kids: If you’re looking for picture books that include stories about Orthodox Christian people and traditions, you’ll find them on this list.