The Firebird

by Jane Yolen, Illustrations by Vladimir Vagin

HarperCollins, April, 2002.
Picture Book, 32 pages.
ISBN: 0060285389
Ages 3-6

The Firebird by Jane Yolen In old Russia, Prince Ivan set out on a hunting trip. But he finds no game in the enchanted forest of the evil wizard Kostchei the Deathless. Suddenly, he sees a beautiful red bird, the Firebird. In exchange for letting the Firebird go, the prince receives one of the Firebird's beautiful feathers. "Wave the feather in the air -- Firebird will be right there," calls the bird to Prince Ivan as she flies away. The prince eventually stumbles upon the beautiful house and garden where the evil wizard holds a princess and her nine maidens captive, turning any would-be rescuers into stone. But with the help of the Firebird, Prince Ivan defeats the wizard, frees the princess, the maidens and all the suitors who had been turned to stone. He marries the princess, and the Firebird flies away, never to be seen again.

Award-winning author Jane Yolen takes the classic Russian folktale of The Firebird and creates a compelling story which is sure to become a family favorite. She was influenced by several of the original sources for the story, as well as her own fond memories of seeing Maria Tallchief perform the Ballanchine/Stravinsky ballet, when Ms. Yolen was just a young girl. With her lyrical prose and vivid storytelling style, she carries the reader into the enchanted forest right along with Prince Ivan. Soviet National Gold Award-winning illustrator Vladimir Vagin creates a gorgeous, colorful, lush landscape for the story, which is told in two tracks. The main story takes up most of each page. Bordering the story is an illustration of the ballet, which mirrors the main story. Vagin's illustrations are stunning in their depth and ability to convey the dramatic feel of a story set in Czarist Russia. This is a beautiful retelling of The Firebird, which should enchant both children and adults.

-- Claire E. White

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This review was published in the June, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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