Review sponsored* by Lyudmila Svetnikova
The Children’s Book Review | June 14, 2017
Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends
Written by L.B. O’Milla
Age Range: 10+
Paperback: 440 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 20, 2017)
What to expect: Fantasy, Magic, Friendship, and Accepting Differences
Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends is a middle grade fantasy novel about good vs. evil and accepting each other’s differences.
Little Yaga lives with her cantankerous grandmother Big Yaga in a hut located in a secret forest filled with Foresters. Little Yaga struggles with the fact that she is more human-like than the rest of the Foresters—she wears a false set of fangs to appear more like the others. She blames her own differences for Big Yaga’s misery. One day, on her way to school, she stumbles across a human girl, Ashley, who is lost in the forest. Scraaggard, the ruler of the forest, lives off the energy he draws from living creatures—especially human energy—so Little Yaga knows that she must help Ashley find her way out of the forest. Knowing that any Forester that tries to save a human will be severely punished, she devises a plan anyway. Will she be able to keep Ashley safe? There are many moving parts to this story and adventure abounds. Little Yaga may just discover that there is more to her physical differences than she realizes.
L.B. O’Milla has created a diverse set of characters, such as eccentric “Hut on a chicken leg”—an actual personified hut that sits on a chicken leg (as seen on the book cover). The first chapter sets the pace of the story well and provides history and insight into the characters and their dwellings—curious minds will be piqued. The plot combines a folktale feel with modern storytelling and the character development follows this, too, with the friendships forged between Foresters and teenage humans. The forest is brought to life through the descriptions of its many obstacles:
“The path was treacherous. Thorny bushes scratched their arms and faces. Tall grass entangled their legs, the howling wind tugged at their hair, and the fog blurred their vision. When they finally reached Biggest Yaga’s log Hut, it looked deserted. If not for a wisp of smoke escaping through the chimney pipe, they would’ve thought nobody was home.”
Children ages 10 and over, that are ready to sink their teeth into a thick book, will likely enjoy the nonsensical magic that has been brought to life on the pages of this tome.
About L.B. O’Milla
L.B. O’Milla was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and loved to read and write from an early age. Her dream was to one day author a children’s book, but due to the religious persecution she faced, she was unable to pursue that dream in Russia. When she was 26 years old, she with her husband and daughter fled the country. They wound up in Rome, Italy, and then came to America as refugees. In the US, she worked as a physical therapist while raising her family, but she never gave up her love of writing. Having grown up in a family that exposed her to the arts, literature, and music, O’Milla enjoyed Russian folklore and its characters. She studied and mastered English, so that her first book could be written in the language of her new country.
Her novel, Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends, mixes Russian folklore with the American tech that her own children love. Her writing has also appeared on the Hebrew International Aid Society website, telling her personal story. One of O’Milla’s greatest surprises was running into a former high school teacher here, in America, who had also emigrated from Russia. The teacher pulled out some notebooks of O’Milla’s old writings that she had saved and brought with her to this country. The teacher confessed she always believed in O’Milla’s distinctive writing abilities. Encouraged, O’Milla kept writing. In her spare time, O’Milla enjoys reading, attending Metropolitan Opera performances and off Broadway shows, spending time with friends and family, and participating in outdoor activities. She also loves to travel. She lives in New Jersey. Now widowed, her biggest supporters are her children and her sister Inna. O’Milla is at work on a sequel containing more adventures of Little Yaga.
omilla.net | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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I want to win this so my kids will have a new good book to read together.