Monday, September 20, 2010

Baba Yaga, Jack And Jill, and Katherine Kurtz

When I was going to McQueeney Elementary School back in the early 70's, each classroom was furnished with generous supplies of Jack and Jill magazines. I loved to browse through them during free time, and I remember I used to really enjoy the Baba Yaga stories that would be occasionally published in them. In these tales Baba Yaga, though grumpy and a little greedy, was a far cry from the cannibalistic hag depicted in old Russian tradition. The real hero was her put-upon black cat, who was sent out on missions by the old witch and had to brave whatever challenges that entailed. I remember enjoying the illustrations as well.

A couple of years ago my sister got a lot of old magazines and books for five bucks at a local auction, and included were several old copies of Jack and Jill. To my delight, one issue (July 1964) had the story "Baba Yaga and the Peddler", illustrated in the style I remembered. I was able to finally identify the artist I had admired as Ursula Koering, and the author of at least some of the Baba Yaga stories was Katherine Kurtz! The same Katherine Kurtz (I assume) who went on to become famous for her Deryni books.

A little further research uncovered a slim little book (34 pages) of four tales published in 1976 entitled Baba Yaga Stories, by Katherine K. O'Connor. Included was "Baba Yaga and the Peddler", so it's pretty sure the K. is for Kurtz. I couldn't find much information on the book; no picture of the cover or whether there were illustrations. So I suppose if there are any Katherine Kurtz collectors out there, this would be a rarity to look out for; I don't find it mentioned on any site dedicated to Kurtz.

I'd love to find more of these old Jack and Jills with Baba Yaga.


Anonymous said...

I saved these from my childhood. I was only missing one copy and wrote to Jack and Jill to see if they still had it. They sent me a black and white copy because they didn't have the original anymore. I did this before the internet. I decided to look today and see if I could find something so now I'll have to start looking for this book now.

Bibi said...

I read these maybe 1945-49 and loved the Baba Yaga serialized stories. I am amazed to f=ind that Jack and Jill Magazine is still being published - shows how good it has been!