Baba’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Wedding

3 April 2014

Baba’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Wedding
By Marion Mutala
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
Review by Alison Slowski
$14.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-06-5

Baba’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Wedding is an engrossing picture book, rendered in beautiful detail by author Marion Mutala and artist Amber Rees, that tells the heartwarming tale of a young woman named Natalia. Natalia, aided by the memory of her grandmother, goes on a magical journey to learn more about her family’s – and people’s – rich history.

During Natalia’s walk down memory lane, she visits all the important moments which involved her grandparents’ time together as young people. The story details her grandparents’ courtship, including the meeting of their two families before and during their seven-day Ukrainian wedding. Mutala uniquely and accurately depicts the Ukrainian customs that are special to a couple’s wedding, such as the gift- or pumpkin-giving before a couple agrees to marry, and the giving of sheshkeh, pinecones made of dough, to welcome their guests in their village to their wedding. Most special of all, this book incorporates the tradition of the korovai, the traditional braided wedding bread, into its mention of the festivities. The inclusion of a korovai recipe in the back is a lovely touch.

Mutala’s accurate portrayal of these customs will speak volumes to readers both familiar and unfamiliar with them. Her playful dialogue between the large cast of characters runs through everything, sprinkled with Ukrainian words and their meaning. Through this, she demonstrates a love of and desire to preserve the Ukrainian way of life. As Ukraine has experienced hard times of strife and war, this is the premise for the wedding couple’s need to emigrate to Canada directly after the wedding. However, their traditions and customs will not be lost, and will live on in the new country of Canada where they will grow the roots of their new family.


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