A story of friendship and faith.
Varenka lives contently in her cottage in the woods, until passersby warn her that war has broken out. Pack up a bundle and come along with us. But Varenka can’t leave. Who will care for the children who wander and get lost in the forest? Who will shelter the animals and feed the birds when winter comes? Soon, Varenka shelters a young artist, an old farmer and his goat, and a lost child. And each night she prays for a wall to be built around her house to protect her from the soldiers who draw nearer with each passing day. Time is running out until Varenka notices a gentle sound all around the house. Snow. Could it be enough to save them?
Bernadette Watts brings this timeless story to life with its message of courage, compassion, and faith.
Bernadette discusses how her story, once thought to be based on a Russian legend, actually came to publication originally in 1971:
“Varenka was written shortly after Hans Millerman. It was a long time ago, but I recall it was a time in my life I loved to write, lots of stories, notebooks, diaries, accounts of journeys and holidays. I also loved reading, especially travel books, and I read a lot about Russia and Siberia. I think Varenka came from my reading about the 1917 Russian Revolution, and also my idea how Russian landscape might look. Varenka and Hans Millerman are the two books which people still write to me about.”
The resemblance to current-day displacement due to war is hauntingly similar... the Byzantine-like faces are beautifully crafted in soft pastel colors, while Watts’s writing follows traditional folktale cadence.
School Library Journal, starred review
This is a moving, beautiful book that will be sure to offer readers opportunities to discuss difficult but pertinent themes.
Jon Appleton, Just Imagine
Varenka’s altruistic nature as well as her unbreakable conviction make this a tale of genuine goodness.
Manhattan Book Review
a well-presented tribute to both Russian art and storytelling. The illustrations are vivid and create an atmosphere that supports the emotions of the text.
Kiss the Book Blog
This is a touching story of the powers of faith, courage, and friendship.
Midwest Book Review