The variations in the voice of the narrator made me perk my ears in anticipation for the next twist in the story.
This book is similar in theme to other books by the same author, Julia Gousseva, in that it delivers cultural themes with a tender care to the next generation, to children who may not have had the opportunity to absorb their Russian heritage and all the wonderful legends it encompasses. An example would be Lollipop by Julia Gousseva. I hope that this book, too, would be produced as an audiobook.
The voice of Rebecca Lee McCarthy has a freshness about it, especially when expressing the children's voices in an exchange between them. She fleshes out every nuance, every word in the story, creating not only an intrigue but an magic atmosphere as well.
This is an admirable undertaking, striving to update one of the most fascinating fairytales in literature, and make it accessible to young readers. Framed in the here and now, this is a journey of discovery, starting with two kids, Alex and Katie, coming to spend the summer with their weird relative, aunt Karina.In her house, a door engraved with foxes and bears leads into a musty library, where Katie discovers an old thick book, a book of Russian fairytale. It is here the kids learn about the Firebird. It is a creature of marvel, traditionally described as having majestic plumage that glows ever so brightly. Its feathers are magical, they can heal pain--but they lose their power if captured by force. Here is a great lesson to be learned.Alex, skeptical of the powers of magic, lays his hand on the canvas of a painting, and his hand goes through, which is when he finds himself in the middle of the meadow, looking back at his sister who remains on the other side, in the realm of reality. It is then that he understands that the painting is a portal into a world of adventure.The kids go on a quest, to bring the magical feather to heal Aunt Karina's pain. But first, she warns them of two things: the feather must be given freely by the Firebird, and they must refrain from talking to old ladies, especially the Baba Yaga, the witch who eats children. Will the follow these instructions? Will the survive the journey, and bring back the magical feather?In reading this book, my only reservation is this: when writing flashbacks from a moment in the past to time before that, a writer should make use of the 'past perfect' tense, which help make the distinction between time periods. Overall, having heard many Russian stories in my childhood, I find Firebird enchanting.