Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mopo3ko--Frost! by Guy Graybill Shares Gripping Russian Folk Tales!

"I say, old man, let's get Sofya married. I've found a very eligible groom."
"If that's what you think best," he replied solemnly, not wishing to reveal his pleasure at the thought of his daughter finally escaping the sharp tongue of her stepmother. He then stood and began slinking off to his bed above the stove. Sofya called after him.
"Listen, greybeard. Get up early tomorrow and harness the mare to our sledge, so that you might take Sofya on a trip to meet the groom."...

"Sit here and await your bridegroom. And mind you, receive him as pleasantly as you can..."
Sofya sat and shivered. Her warm coat couldn't keep out the intense cold. Her teeth chattered. Suddenly she heard a sound. Not far off, Morozko was cracking away on a fir. He leaped from fir to fir, snapping his fingers and leaving branch after branch glazed with ice. Soon he was on top of the very tree under which Sofya was sitting and shivering. He called to her.
"Are you warm, maiden?"

Mopo3ko--Twenty Gripping Russian Folk Tales Retold with all of Their Intensity and Charm

By Guy Graybill

It seems that whenever stepmothers are involved in folk tales, they are always up to no good! Marina was no exception! When Marina announced to her husband that she'd found a husband for his daughter Sofya, he was at first relieved, thinking that she'd at least be away from his terrible wife. But then he learned that she was betrothed to Jack Frost! He had no way to help get her out of this! At least, Sofya did exactly what her father had told her. She pleasantly spoke to Father Frost each time he called to her...

I must say that I'd rather stay with those stories that are told from one person to another. Some of the television programs which pull various stories and characters together have turned the traditional fairy tale into full production movies which, in my opinion, totally defeats the original storytelling. There's certainly room for both, but when it merges into where there is no semblance of the original stories, I believe we have lost much of that short story flavor with an extra punch!

This Skazka tells of the legendary origins of two rivers...
Very long ago...the rivers were living people...
Guy Graybill has brought twenty Russian tales into his book entitled Frost! There are some stories which sound familiar to you, but are not quite the same. I found this so, especially, with "Sozh and Dnieper" which tells of two brothers, one of whom leaves home and seeks his own way... You may think you know the original story, but don't be sure.  This story is about the Father, Dvina and his two sons (branches), Sozh and Dnieper.

As with any book with many stories, I usually pick my favorites to talk about, but if they don't sound interesting to you, I'm sure that there will be others you'll enjoy.
The Immortal Koshchei
King Pavel's Queen Inessa was kidnapped by Koshchei. Each of the adult sons vowed to go and bring their mother back. Each went separately, but the first two had disappeared! So when the third and youngest son asked for his father's blessing, he refused, indicating he didn't want to lose him too... But the youngest son had special power--maybe nobody even knew about it, but he knew he would succeed and left... Soon magic entered the picture when he needed a horse... A woman, perhaps a witch, told him what to do... 

So as he was traveling, he meets up with his brothers coming from different directions. The youngest proceeds to move ahead but be sure that this story does not go well. There's a couple of twists ahead and one of them involves a young princess...of course...
 The next story I enjoyed was "The Blind Man and the Cripple" which tells a story about a young prince who wishes to marry. His parents have died and Katoma has been placed as his adviser who suggests that he tries for the hand of Princess Ann...which is a slightly different but similar story as Puccini's "Tarandot..."

I also greatly enjoyed "The Woodland Damsel" which tells of a priest's daughter named Oksana who loves the forest so much that she one day wondered off far into the woods...but did not return in three years! Until one day, a hunter and his dog, Sirius, comes near an old cottage deep in the woods... The hunter realizes that she was apparently hurt in some type of accident and doesn't remember anything, so he spends time helping her adjust to them and beginning to talk about where she was from... 

And then there's the moujik who winds up in Hell. When a Fiddler who just had been walking and playing and wound up walking right into hell starts talking to him, the moujik tells him his sad tale of how he got there...

One of the significant additions to this book is an "Educators' Complement" which takes each story and presents thoughts and questions to help students or readers learn and remember the stories.

Folk Tales are a wonderful way to learn about or honor the heritage of various countries. This one from Russia draws us in and brings us stories that we would otherwise never her, even if we were fortunate to visit there. Please check it out... You may want to consider it as a stocking stuffer for your own children!


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