DetailsWedding bells are ringing in the past! The wind brings Natalia a babushka just like the ones her Baba used to wear, taking the young girl on a magical journey to an autumn long ago to discover the wedding traditions of her Ukrainian heritage.
- Additional Information
ISBN 9781927756065 Publication Date Oct 1, 2013 Author Mutala, Marion Illustrator Rees, Amber Pages 48 Size 9.00″ x 9.00″
Customer Reviews 3 item(s)
- Resource Links Editor
- Marion Mutala has added a third entry to her series about Natalia learning about her Ukrainian heritage. This time she pens a tale about Ukrainian wedding customs. Once again, as Natalia remembers her Baba, a magical red babushka appears and covers her head. It sweeps her to her Baba’s village in the Ukraine. Natalia witnesses her grandfather proposing to Baba. She learns about Ukrainian courting and marriage customs. Her grandparents have decided to immigrate to Canada after the wedding. While packing, Baba accidentally leaves behind the wedding icon her parents have given her. Natalia puts the icon in her babushka and rushes after her grandparents. She tries to give it back to them but it does not work because she is still invisible. Finally, she puts on the babushka while grasping the icon and wakes up on her own farm in Canada still clutching it. The family treasure has come home after all even though it is in the future. As usual, Mutala’s stories are an excellent way to learn Ukrainian customs.
- SPG Book Review
Baba's Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Wedding is an engrossing picture book, rendered in beautiful detail by author Marion Mutala and artist Amber Rees, that tells the heartwarming tale of a young woman named Natalia. Natalia, aided by the memory of her grandmother, goes on a magical journey to learn more about her family's – and people's – rich history.
During Natalia’s walk down memory lane, she visits all the important moments which involved her grandparents’ time together as young people. The story details her grandparents’ courtship, including the meeting of their two families before and during their seven-day Ukrainian wedding. Mutala uniquely and accurately depicts the Ukrainian customs that are special to a couple’s wedding, such as the gift- or pumpkin-giving before a couple agrees to marry, and the giving of sheshkeh, pinecones made of dough, to welcome their guests in their village to their wedding. Most special of all, this book incorporates the tradition of the korovai, the traditional braided wedding bread, into its mention of the festivities. The inclusion of a korovai recipe in the back is a lovely touch.
Mutala’s accurate portrayal of these customs will speak volumes to readers both familiar and unfamiliar with them. Her playful dialogue between the large cast of characters runs through everything, sprinkled with Ukrainian words and their meaning. Through this, she demonstrates a love of and desire to preserve the Ukrainian way of life. As Ukraine has experienced hard times of strife and war, this is the premise for the wedding couple’s need to emigrate to Canada directly after the wedding. However, their traditions and customs will not be lost, and will live on in the new country of Canada where they will grow the roots of their new family.
- Retired teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
The final book in the Baba’s Babushka series is the tale of A Magical Ukrainian Wedding. It is autumn, and Natalia is supposed to be cleaning her room to get ready for the Thanksgiving visit of her extended family. But she becomes distracted, looks out her window and, certain that she can see her grandmother's face and twinkling eyes, she runs outside. The wind is scattering the fallen leaves, and, as they swirl around her head, they turn into flowers bedecking a bright red babushka. It’s time for another adventure, and this one takes her back to Baba’s village in Ukraine. Baba, whose name is Sophie, is now a grown woman, and her quiet rural existence is threatened; soldiers are on the march and war threatens. The handsome young man to whom she gave the pysanka in A Magical Ukrainian Easter is Stefan, and he wants to emigrate to Canada where he will have his own farm. “Sophie, will you be my wife and come with me?” the young man asked. Sophie accepts the proposal and preparations for their wedding begin.
While the previous two books depicted traditions still practiced at Christmas and Easter by many contemporary Ukrainian Canadians, the story of Sophie and Stefan’s wedding offers insight into Ukrainian betrothal and wedding customs which might not be as familiar, especially to third or fourth-generation assimilated Canadians. But, familiar or not, we feel as if we are guests at this event, and Natalia is truly awed at the privilege of witnessing the beginning of her grandparents’ married life and their courageous, but difficult, decision to leave family, friends, and all that is familiar to them for a new life in Canada. Most important for Natalia is seeing the “head-covering” ceremony when Sophie’s wedding wreath of flowers is removed from her head and replaced with a white babushka, symbolizing that she was now a married woman.
Natalia felt tears sting her eyes; the babushka Baba now wore looked exactly like the one Natalia remembered from the wedding photo hanging on the living room wall at home in Hafford. It was the same babushka her mama had worn on her own wedding day. One day, Mama would place that babushka on Natalia’s head, too, and the tradition would continue.
Each of the books in Marion Mutala Baba’s Babushka series can be read by itself, but, because the books trace Baba’s life story from girlhood to adulthood, the series works best if read in sequence. The continuation of cultural tradition within a family, the special love that grandchildren can have for their grandparents, and the importance of holding on to one’s heritage inform all three of the books. By focusing on the two major liturgical celebrations of Christmas and Easter, as well as depicting Baba and Dido’s wedding, Mutala has incorporated the details of centuries-old tradition in a way that works naturally within the narrative. I think that books would find an audience amongst Canadian girls of Ukrainian heritage – few boys will be interested in time travel enabled by a flowered head scarf, and the story’s focus is definitely on the relationship between grandmother and granddaughter. Readers will certainly see the connections between current cultural practices (especially those involving food) which have been retained or learn about customs which would have been familiar to past generations.
The illustrations of the first two books have a naïve, folkloric quality, reminiscent to me of the art of William Kurelek. A different artist provided the illustrations in A Magical Ukrainian Wedding and, as a result, drawings are rendered in much brighter colours and both Natalia and Sophie look different from their presentation in the previous books. Each book is only 48 pages long, featuring a full-colour illustration facing each page of text; oddly, the books are unpaginated. Readers whose knowledge of Ukrainian is minimal will appreciate Mutala’s inclusion of a Glossary and pronunciation guide. And, because each of the celebrations has a special food made and served only for that occasion, at the end of the book, Mutala has provided basic recipes for kutya (the wheat porridge eaten as the first dish of the Svia Vechir dinner), Paska (Easter bread), and Korovai (the elaborately decorated round braided bread which is featured at a Ukrainian wedding.)
The three Baba’s Babushka books are a worthwhile acquisition for elementary school libraries and resource collection in schools which offer Ukrainian language programing, and for public libraries serving communities with significant Ukrainian-Canadian populations.