Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll

Published by Candlewick

Summary: Masha feels all alone in the world since her grandmother died and her father is about to get remarried. When she sees an ad for an assistant posted by Baba Yaga, she remembers her grandmother’s stories about the Russian witch and applies. She’s given a series of tests, the final one of which is to cook some children for Baba Yaga’s supper (she cleverly outwits the witch on that one). Through a combination of skill, luck, and a little magic talent, Masha proves herself capable of being a witch’s assistant and heals some family relationships in the process. Grades 5-8.

Pros: Readers will connect with Masha and her family issues in this engaging graphic novel. The witchy folktale elements add a pleasantly spooky note.

Cons: If I hadn’t grown up on a steady diet of Baba Yaga stories in Jack and Jill magazine, I might have found some of the folktale allusions a little confusing.

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