Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Illustrator:  Michael Martchenko 
Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2003   ISBN: 155041884X

Times are hard in Marusia’s country, for there is a cruel dictator in power who is taking all the grain that the country folk are growing. In fact, the Dictator has taken so much grain for himself that it is rotting in sheds while the people in Marusia’s village don’t have enough to eat. Luckily for the villagers,  Marusia has hidden some grain and this she shares with the entire village.

When spring comes, Marusia decides that they must set aside some of the grain to plant in their fields. This they do, and one day a huge stalk of wheat grows up out of the ground. Before Marusia can gather the grain from the stalk an enormous stork lands on it and begins to eat the soft kernels. Marusia tells the stork that she is would be happy share with him but it is the only food in the whole village. The kindly stork then offers to take Marusia to a place where there is plenty of grain and off they go, with Marusia riding on the great bird’s back.

The bird takes Marusia to a land far away where huge fields of grain grow, and the kind people in that land give Marusia as much grain as she can carry to take home to her village. Will Marusia be able to keep the Dictator and his soldiers from taking away this crop too?

This wonderful fairy tale with its touches of magic, humor, and history shows the reader how enough can mean different things to different people. Enough for Marusia is when the people in her Ukrainian village are not hungry. Enough for the Dictator is when every villager is in a grave. Children will delight in Marusia’s clever triumph against the evil Dictator. The story is based on real events that took place in the Ukraine in the 1930’s when Stalin set out to destroy the people by taking away all their food supplies.