Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Babushka’s Doll

Polacco, Patricia (Author/Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster 1995. 40 pages
First published: 1990
ISBN: 9780689802553 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, point of view

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Natasha wants Babushka (Grandmother in Russian) to push her on the swing; she wants Babushka to take her for a ride in the goat cart; she wants Babushka to prepare her lunch—and she wants it all now. Children will recognize Natasha’s impatience: grown-ups are always busy with boring things. The plentiful and finely tuned dialogue suggests another perspective for young readers. ‘“But I’m hungry, too, Babushka . . . I want to eat now.’ ‘Don’t be selfish, darling,’ said Babushka. ‘These poor creatures need to be fed. They cannot fix their own lunch.’” After lunch, Babushka allows Natasha to play with a special doll, while she goes to the market.

Set in rural Russia, Natasha and her grandmother wear traditional clothing in dazzling combinations of brightly printed fabrics. The attractive, naturalistic illustrations are imbued with frenetic energy—the laundry blows in the wind, the goats’ ears twitch and turn. When Babushka’s doll comes to life, the figures seem to rush off the page. What starts out as fun quickly turns to hard work for Natasha. The doll is demanding and unappreciative, and makes a terrible mess. This book offers opportunities for fruitful discussion on consideration for others.

  •  Discuss the story. Why did the little girl not want to play with the doll anymore? What did she learn from the doll? What was the message of the story?
  •  Make a story map. Identify the beginning, middle and end, the characters, problem and resolution.
  •  Act out the story and present to a younger grade.
  •  

    Complete a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the little girl and Babushka’s doll. How are they similar/different?

  •  

    Create paper puppets. Present the story to the class as a puppet show.

  •  Invent your own version of the story and create a mini book, or present it as a skit.
  •  

    Discuss how the little girl’s behaviour changes from the beginning to the end. What does it mean to be kind to others? What are some kind words and actions? What can you do to be kind to others?

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Geography, History and Citizenship