Illustrated by Ana Beatriz Marques.
This is the story of a set of five Russian nesting dolls who together make up Babushka. They live happily in a house in the forest, alongside the birds and the other woodland creatures. However, Babushka starts to wonder about the meaning of life and, one by one, each of the five dolls separates from the rest and goes off in search of their purpose. They each have their own path to follow. Beautiful Antonia leaves for love, the wealthy Loretta leaves out of compassion for others, hardworking Paula heads to the city to make the most of her talents and skills, and wise Viola hopes to use her bright mind creatively in the City of Inventions.
Although initially content with the new directions they have taken, before long each of the dolls becomes unhappy. It is up to Mary, the remaining doll, to bring the five dolls back together again.
Metaphorically, the Babushka doll can be seen to represent the many complex layers of women. I felt that one of the book’s messages is that we, as people, aren’t defined by a single characteristic. We are each made up of many different traits and are the sum of our parts.
The Story of Babushka also reflects on societies where people work so hard to earn money that they have very little time left for anything other than work. There seems to be a call for a more simpler way of life with a focus on things that really matter, such as family and friends.
The book is richly illustrated throughout, helping to bring the dolls and their stories alive.
I particularly enjoyed the philosophical aspects of the book. I think it’s helpful to expose children to life’s big questions and The Story of Babushka does this in a gentle and accessible way.
The Story of Babushka is a lovely early chapter book with heartwarming themes and charming illustrations.
Suitable for children aged 6+
Thank you to Catherine for sending me this book to review.