Babushka, retold and illustrated by Charles Mikolyack, is the Russian folk tale of a lady who was too busy cleaning her home to stop and give a gift to the baby Christ as he passed by her home. Once she realizes her folly, she spends the rest of her life searching for the Christ child to give him a gift. Along the way she surprises children whose paths she happens to cross, though they never see her. Instead they catch of whiff of cinnamon and find a small gift on their pillow.
“And to this day, Babushka wanders the earth still looking for the Christ child, leaving gifts for all children in the hopes that one day she will find him.”
Somehow, for many Christmases, Babushka has been able to leap over the ocean and leave her scent and small gifts on several pillows in south western Ohio. It’s no more unrealistic than Santa Claus!
This beautifully illustrated book has been a meaningful way for us to introduce some Slavic culture into our family traditions. While we have Ukrainian and Kazak children, we were told early on that the that teaching our children to value all cultures was key in helping them feel as though their ethnic heritage is valued. Introducing the language of “Babushka”, and a story about the Christ child from a vastly different part of the world opens up our conversation for ideas such as cultural differences, religious differences, and, of course, differences in general. And, the use of candy or a small gift and some mystery have made it a chance to celebrate a tradition that is different yet good.
I highly recommend this children’s book for families that have children between the ages of 4 and 10.