Bernadette Watts

This picture book was first published in 1971 and is well worthy of republishing. The traditional style of the story telling and beautiful full page illustrations create a fairy tale land experiencing worldly problems.

Varenka hears of soldiers and guns and war from the refugees passing her remote cottage, but chooses to stay and face whatever that may mean for her and her home, in order to be able to help others that venture near. As the cottage fills up she prays for a way to remain hidden from the soldiers. The little family that find refuge in the cottage all bring something with them. In this way, with the help of nature, peace is restored and celebrated and shared with the world.

The story deals with scary themes just as all fairy tales do, and just as all fairy tales have a happy ending, so does Varenka. A provocative but ultimately comforting story for children of all ages.

Published by North South 2022

Reviewed by Fiona McMorrow