________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 6. . . . November 16, 2001

cover The Twelve Months.

Rafe Martin. Illustrated by Vladyana Langer Krykorka.
Toronto, ON: Stoddart Kids, 2000.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-7737-3249-7.

Subject Headings:
Fairy tales-Czechslovakia.

Grades 1-6 / Ages 6-11.

Review by Sylvia Pantaleo.

**** /4


In our village, there was once a girl named Marushka, whose mother and father had both died. She lived with her aunt and her cousin, a girl of her own age, named Holena. Their cottage sat by the edge of the forest at the foot of the mountain, and their lives could have been filled with peace.

However, Marushka's aunt and cousin are grumpy, greedy and selfish. Even though she is forced to do all of the work, Marushka finds pleasure in each task. Holena complains to her mother that no one will want to marry her with Marushka around, and so they give Marushka three impossible tasks in an effort to rid themselves of her. In midwinter, they send Marushka out to find violets, strawberries and apples. Each time Marushka is given a task, she is told not to return to the cottage unless she has acquired the designated item.


     On her first quest, Marushka travels through the forest, climbs up to the highest peak of the mountain, and discovers twelve men sitting around a burning fire. Three men are old, three are middle-aged, three are adolescents and three are still boys. She greets the men kindly and asks permission to warm herself by the fire. The oldest of the twelve men explains that they are the twelve months of the year. January asks Marushka, "What do you seek?" When she explains her plight, March assists her, and Marushka returns to the cottage with beautiful violets. Although her surprised aunt and cousin are skeptical that she gathered the violets on the mountaintop, they send Marushka out on two more excursions to get strawberries and apples. Each time, the twelve months assist Marushka. Finally, greediness overcomes Holena and her mother, and they set off to the mountaintop to get more apples. They find the twelve months, but the women's rudeness
results in January's creating a driving snowstorm. Holena and her mother are never seen or heard from again.

     Marushka plants twelve apple seeds the following spring, and soon the beautiful trees bear bountiful sweet and juicy fruit. Marushka shares the harvest with her friends, neighbours, animals, birds and the twelve men.

     And who is telling this Slavic version of Cinderella where the twelve months play the part of godmother? Why Marushka's dog! Except for the final page of the story, each verso contains the text and each recto contains a full-page illustration. Krykorka's distinctive illustrations are colourful, and she effectively uses a variety of hues to communicate the mystery and magic of the story. Readers will delight in the triumphant of the good-hearted heroine!

     The Twelve Months is Rafe Martin's second variant of the Cinderella story. He has also retold a Native-American version of the classic story in The Rough-Face Girl.

Highly Recommended.

Sylvia Pantaleo is an Assistant Professor of Language Arts at the Faculty of Education, the University of Victoria.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364