B is for Baba Yaga


Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin

Who does not love this delicious, wild sorceress of the Skazki, Russian fairy tales? Riding in her mortar, steering with her pestle, sweeping away her trail with a broom, she lands by her gate of human bones and commands her house on chicken feet, “Little Hut, Little Hut! Turn the way thy mother taught thee, with thy back to the forest and thy face toward me.”

She drives a hard bargain but lives up to her part, however grudgingly. When guests such as Vasilisa or Tsarevich Ivan pass her harsh tests, they earn the needed horse or bird or fire.

Do you have Baba Yaga stories in your library? Take a look at these:

Avery, Gillian, Russian Fairy Tales , with illustrations by Ivan Bilibin. (Borzoi/Alfred A Knopf, Inc., 1995).

Johns, Andreas, Baba Yaga The Ambiguous Mother and Witch of the Russian Folktale (Peter Lang, 2004).

Meyer, Marianna, Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave (HarperCollins 1994).

One last thing:
Q: How do you pronounce her name?
A: If you’re a true child of Russia, baba yaGAH

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