Growing up, I loved Russian fairy tales. But when I tried reading them to my son in Arizona, he wasn't impressed. The stories felt foreign and dated to both of us. Yet I still loved the characters and the magic of these fairy tales, so I decided to write a series aimed at American kids.
This is the third book in the series. It starts on a warm June morning at Aunt Karina's house, but the air suddenly turns cold. Thick, white snowflakes are falling down and covering the ground. Ten-year-old Alex is surprised and delighted. He senses the approach of a new adventure. Together with his nine-year-old sister, Katie, he rushes into the winter forest in search of a little girl, Masha. She is lost in an unexpected storm. They see her footprints in the snow and follow them. The wind is picking up, whistling through tree branches, creating white flurries on the ground and erasing Masha's footprints. Will they be able to find Masha before the wind completely hides her path?
"Alex, look, there is Masha!" Katie says. In the distance a person dressed in a white, sparkling coat and a silver hat is walking between the trees. Alex and Katie run as fast as they can.
The person turns around. It's not Masha. It's a tall, elderly man with a long, white beard. In his right hand, he holds a staff. In his left he carries a large sack adorned with white, sparkling fur. His brows are furrowed, and his eyes look cold and unfriendly.
"Who goes here?" the elderly man bellows. "Why are you in my forest? Who invited you here?"
He opens his mouth and starts blowing cold air at the kids and at the path, sweeping away all the footprints. Alex shivers. He has never felt that cold in his life. Will he and Katie survive and make it back to Aunt Karina's house? And will they ever find Masha?
©2014 Julia Gousseva (P)2015 Julia Gousseva