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Stefan Czernecki and Timothy Rhodes
Illustrated by Stefan Czernecki

Toronto, Sterling/Hyperion, 1990. 56pp, cloth, $19.95
ISBN 0-920534-65-1. CIP

Junior Kindergarten to Grade 2/Ages 4 to 7
Reviewed by Barbara Cornfield.

Volume 19 Number 2
1991 March

Have you ever wondered at the origin of intricately painted Ukrainian Easter eggs? Nina's Treasures tells a tale in the tradition of folk literature of how the eggs first appeared.

Long ago in a small village in the Ukraine there lived a grandmother named Katerina with Nina, her loyal hen, who never failed to lay a plentiful supply of eggs for her baking. After a particularly cold winter with very little food, Nina stopped laying eggs, and Katerina no longer had the income from selling her baked goods. Seeing that Katerina was desperately unhappy. Nina produced a nestfull of the most exotically painted eggs that anyone had ever seen. The villagers marvelled at the eggs, and Katerina was able to sell them at the highest price ever paid for eggs, and so Katerina and Nina were able to live happily together for many years. Now, every spring, the grand­mothers in the village turn ordinary eggs into the most extraordinary painted eggs like Nina's.

This delightful story is illustrated with brightly coloured pictures inspired by the pattern of peasant costumes and folk art. Even Nina is depicted with a floral patterned kerchief and a blue and red flowered body and beak. Her wing tips and tail feathers have red and green patterns, and her henhouse is bright yellow with floral motifs. These illustrations, framed with borders of leaves, have intricate small detailed butterflies, birds and bees.

If there is a criticism to be made of the illustrations, it is that they are rather similar. Katerina and Nina usually wear the same clothing with the same patterns on the cloth, and they often are drawn in the same body positions. However, my young nieces were unperturbed by this, and asked repeatedly to have this story read to them. The author-illustrator team who have produced this book are already known for two other acclaimed stories, Bear in the Sky and The Time Before Dreams.


Barbara Cornfield, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa, Ont.
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