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- ISBN-13: 9780763672201
- ISBN-10: 0763672203
- Publisher: Candlewick Press (MA)
- Publish Date: September 2014
- Page Count: 475
- Reading Level: Ages 12-UP
- Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.1 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
Magical intrigue along Russia's railway
Gregory Maguire steps out of Oz and into Tsarist Russia in this magical twist on the classic prince and the pauper folk tale. Thirteen-year-old Elena is a peasant daughter who scrounges for food during a bleak crop failure. Her mother is dying, and her eldest brother has been taken into the tsar’s army. Except for a few kind villagers, Elena is alone until a train rolls into town. Aboard the train is Ekaterina, a wealthy girl who is headed to Saint Petersburg to impress the tsar’s godson, something she dreads. When the girls accidentally switch places, they each set off on an adventure. Elena goes to the city in hopes of finding her brother while Ekaterina runs into Baba Yaga, the infamous Russian witch full of anachronistic one-liners and crazy schemes. In order to avoid being eaten, Ekaterina agrees to accompany Baba Yaga aboard her enchanted house on legs to Saint Petersburg for an audience with the tsar. When the girls see each other again, their fates are forever entwined.
Maguire weaves themes of class struggle and environmental upheaval into an engaging and relatable tale. This isn’t a story about desolation, but one of hope. Elena and Ekaterina prove that with a little tenacity and bravery, people can change their lives for the better.