Wednesday, February 20, 2008

THE GOLDEN MARE, THE FIREBIRD, AND THE MAGIC RING (Genre Traditional Literature/module 3)

Bibliographic Information:

Title: The Golden Mare, the Firebird, and the Magic Ring

Author: Ruth Sanderson

Illustrator: Ruth Sanderson

Publisher: Little Brown & Co

Publication Date: April 2001

ISBN: 9780316769068

A young man, Alexi, wishes to serve as a huntsman for a tsar of Russia. Upon entering the woods, Alexei encounters a golden mare whose life he spares. In return for sparing the animal's life, Alexei is offered the opportunity to gain his goal. The tsar wishes to keep the mare for himself, but the horse only allows Alexei to be her rider and so the tsar settles for Alexei's service to him as a huntsman. Because jealousy clouds his emotions the tsar sends Alexei on formidable tasks including capturing the Firebird and procuring Yelena the Fair, a beautiful young maiden. Despite these Herculean type tasks, Alexei succeeds with the assistance of the golden mare, and eventually tricks the tsar and becomes tsar himself.

The oil illustrations in this story are gorgeous. They assist in telling the tale which is appropriate for older elementary aged children and middle schoolers. Rich in color and detail, the illustrations truly bring a sense of wealth and age to the book.

The story of a Russian folk tale, similar to the northern European tale of Puss in Boots, offers an enchanting story in which a commoner achieves greatness with the assistance of a magical helpmate animal. The golden mare serves as Puss in Boots and Alexei is the miller's youngest son. Following the instructions of the mare, Alexei achieves reknown and struggles with his feelings regarding his insincerity toward Yelena the Fair.

This book is a bit too complicated and the story too intricate to interest younger readers/listeners. Older children will be enchanted by the rich color, double page spread illustrations and the story's intracacies, but younger children may lose interest. The text is longer and the story would certainly be appropriately broken into segments for a wonderful bedtime story reading.

This is another of Sanderson's attempts and The Crystal Mountain was critically acclaimed as a success.

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