cover image Marushka and the Month Brother

Marushka and the Month Brother

Anna Vojtech, Philemon Sturges, A. Vojtech. NorthSouth, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-55858-628-4

Revisiting a favorite folktale from her childhood in Czechoslovakia, Vojtech teams again with Sturges, her collaborator on Ten Flashing Fireflies. They lace their lyrical narrative with affecting imagery as they retell the plight of lovely Marushka, whose ""warm smile could thaw a January day."" Yet it has no such effect on her cruel stepmother and demanding stepsister. During the bitterly cold winter, they set the patient girl to impossible tasks, bidding her to fetch violets, juicy strawberries and fresh apples. Marushka fills each of these outlandish requests with the help of the Month Brothers, 12 godlike figures she discovers seated around a fire in a snowy hollow. Vojtech's softly focused paintings accentuate, with gentle humor, the contrast between the kind, hardworking Marushka and her greedy, lazy tormentors. While kids will giggle at the lumpy stepsister's decidedly pig-like nose, such details don't interrupt the overall impression of timeless grace. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)