The Dream Stealer by Gregory Maguire
When I like an author, I like to read just about everything he’s written. Since I like Gregory Maguire, I picked up The Dream Stealer, even though it’s a children’s book.
The book is a retelling of a Russian fairy tale about a witch named Baba Yaga and a terrifying wolf called the Blood Prince who wants to steal the children’s dreams. The characters are cute in a one-note way that works in fairy tales; they’re villagers who can barely agree on anything, and that’s amusing. The folk characters and the type of magic come across as unique and different because most of us in the US don’t know old Russian tales the way we do Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. I mean, who ever thought of a smelly old woman flying around in a mortar, wielding a pestle, followed by her house walking around on chicken legs? Maguire’s wry humor works here through sparse, easy language that is appropriate for young readers. It’s a sweet, fun tale that would be good for bedtime stories and reading lessons.