I heard Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition last night, and a convoluted trail of thoughts led me to Baba Yaga, Jack and Jill magazine, Lloyd Alexander, and the first time I tried to buy a book by myself.
My mother subscribed to Jack and Jill magazine for me when I was a child in the 1960’s. I was fascinated by the stories in the magazine about Baba Yaga, the Russian witch who flew around in a mortar and pestle, and who lived in a hut on chicken legs. Mussorgsky portrays the witch sailing fiendishly through the air in her mortar, and the hut walking around just like I imagine such a hut to walk.
There was no book store in my home town, and Sioux Falls didn’t get one until I was a teenager. My mom always let me buy books at school from Scholastic, Services and I took out as many books as I was allowed from the public and school libraries. I discovered a wonderful book series by Lloyd Alexander called The Prydain Chronicles one summer in the public library when I was in Grade 4. The stories are based on Welsh myth, and I was disappointed to find that the library was missing one book in the series. The librarian told me that she had no intention purchasing it, either. Without telling my mom, I found the name and address of the publisher (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston) from inside one of the books in the series that the library had, hand wrote a letter in my horrible handwriting asking about the price of the book, addressed and stamped the envelope, and mailed it off. A couple of weeks later I received a very nice reply kindly letting me know the price, which was more money than I had at the time, and thanking me for my inquiry. I dropped my search, and finally found the missing book a couple of years later in the book store that opened up in the first mall in Sioux Falls.
My love for Jack and Jill magazine prompted me to subscribe to it as well as Cricket magazine for my son and daughter. We found Baba Yaga stories in Cricket, too. Imagine my delight when I saw that Lloyd Alexander was one of the editors of Cricket. Both children loved The Prydain Chronicles, as well as other stories by Lloyd Alexander. Funny where listening to Mussorgsky will take you.
What magazines did your family subscribe to?