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Egg & Spoon
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Egg & Spoon
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In this tour de force, master storyteller Gregory Maguire offers a dazzling novel for fantasy lovers of all ages. Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead...
In this tour de force, master storyteller Gregory Maguire offers a dazzling novel for fantasy lovers of all ages. Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead...
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  • In this tour de force, master storyteller Gregory Maguire offers a dazzling novel for fantasy lovers of all ages. Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar's army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg—a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena's age. When the two girls' lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and—in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured—Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.

 

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About the Author-

  • New York native Gregory Maguire rose to fame with his best-selling novel Wicked, which has sold millions of copies around the globe and remains a sensation as a Broadway musical. Now he is the author of an impressive collection of children's books, adult novels, and numerous short stories, including Egg and Spoon and What-The-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy, middle-grade novels sure to engage children of every age and background.

    Gregory Maguire worked for eight years as a professor and associate director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children's Literature before receiving his PhD in English and American literature from Tufts University. "Nothing serves a writer better than getting to teach children's books as literature—as an art form that relies on traditions of narrative shapeliness and verbal pizzazz as well as saucy innovation," the author says. He also cofounded and currently codirects Children's Literature New England, a nonprofit educational charity that promotes awareness of the significance of literature in the lives of children. With those aims in mind, Gregory Maguire has served on the juries for the Caldecott Medal, the National Book Award for Children's Books, and the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year.

    And what advice would he pass along to aspiring young writers? When he himself was growing up, Gregory Maguire mimicked Harriet the Spy's investigative route. "Get a spy notebook and spy on everyone," he suggests. "Try not to get in trouble. Try not to break the law. But pay attention and write it down. That's the best training a would-be writer can have."

    Gregory Maguire lives with his family outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 7, 2014
    An imprisoned monk narrates this fabulist tale from Maguire, which draws inspiration from Russian folklore, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, while incorporating a modern thread about the threat of climate change. On her way to be presented to the Tsar’s godson, wealthy Ekaterina is marooned in a rural village when a broken bridge stops her train. Peasant Elena approaches the luxurious train to beg, and the two girls take tentative steps toward friendship; when the train starts moving again, the wrong one is aboard. The journey to their eventual reunion brings Ekaterina in contact with legendary witch Baba Yaga. Though the setting is circa 1900,
    Maguire’s riffs are mostly contemporary: Baba Yaga complains about regifting, owns the original cast recording from Damn Yankees, and bemoans that she’s out of “Granny Yaga’s Frozen Tater Tots, made from real tots.” Like the matryoshka doll Elena carries, there are a lot of layers to Maguire’s story. Rich, descriptive language will reward readers who like to sink their teeth into a meaty story. Ages 12–up. Agent: William Reiss, John Hawkins and Associates.

  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2014

    Gr 7 Up-With one brother conscripted into the Tsar's army and another bound to serve a local landowner, Elena is left alone to care for her widowed and ailing mother in early 20th-century Russia. When an elegant train bearing a noble her age rolls through their barren village, Elena and her counterpart, Cat, accidentally swap places. Twin journeys to restore their former stations in life lead to encounters with murderous kittens, royal families, and even the famed witch Baba Yaga, and the challenges that lie ahead go far beyond a simple mix-up. Maguire marries the traditional "Prince and the Pauper" narrative to the Russian folktale of Baba Yaga with his trademark wit and aplomb. His lyrical descriptions of the drab countryside are equally detailed and moving as the charmed, floating courts of the Romanov dynasty. Each character is well-drawn and fascinating, whether its the prim, terrified governess to young Ekaterina or Baba Yaga herself, a cannibal with a heart of gold constantly cracking wise in her enchanted, walking house. The author weaves a lyrical tale full of magic and promise, yet checkered with the desperation of poverty and the treacherous prospect of a world gone completely awry. Egg and Spoon is a beautiful reminder that fairy tales are at their best when they illuminate the precarious balance between lighthearted childhood and the darkness and danger of adulthood.-Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ

    Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from July 15, 2014
    Two girls switch identities while colliding with Baba Yaga and the Firebird in Czarist Russia. Elena, a child of rural Russian poverty in the town of Miersk, is desperate to help her ailing mother and to recover her older brothers, Alexei, at work for another family, and Luka, conscripted into the czar's army. Her determined journey finds her life suddenly swapped with that of Ekaterina, also 13, a daughter of privilege. Plot details include a pilgrimage to Saint Petersburg to meet the czar and his godson, Prince Anton, a Faberge egg, a Firebird's egg, a legacy of matryoshka dolls, and the powerful presence and proclamations of Baba Yaga. Maguire, a veteran writer of reimagined traditional tales for a new world, jauntily explores themes no less profound than hunger and satiety, class and influence, and the sharing of resources in a world wracked by climate change. While not without flaws-a bit protracted, cluttered, overly grand and infused with some metafictive moments that occasionally take the reader out of the story-this is an epic rich with references, aphorisms and advice.An ambitious, Scheherazade-ian novel, rather like a nesting-doll set of stories, that succeeds in capturing some of the complexities of both Russia and life itself. (Historical fantasy. 12 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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