Children's Books and Pysanky
As a Children's Librarian, I've come across many books that touch on pysanky, either directly or peripherally. I share them with you in hopes that you will share them with the children in your life.
Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco has probably written more about pysanky than any other children's writer. In this book, the children make a basket of pysanky to help them out when they are blamed for something they didn't do. My favorite part about this book is the fact that the author explains how they decorate their eggs with hot wax and dyes. So authentic!
Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco
Babushka paints beautiful eggs. One day she finds a wounded goose who she brings home to nurse back to health. Through an accident, the goose, who is called Rechenka, knocks over all of Babushka's dyes and breaks her eggs. Babushka is sad because she wants to win a contest. Luckily, the goose helps her and all is well in the end. I love the illustrations in this book, but you might be disappointed that the eggs are described as being painted and not as being created with wax and dyes.
The Magic Babushka by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes
This is a sweet story about a young girl named Nadia with a visual impairment. A take on the classic Rumplestiltskin story, Nadia wants to make beautiful eggs and manages to do so with magic. Then the Czar wishes her to make her eggs again...but how can she make the magic work a second time? Don't worry. There is a happy ending. This book has a lovely illustration of Nadia making a pysanka.
The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous
This book won the Caldecott Award for its illustrations in 1951. Based on Pennsylvania Dutch motifs, the images are subtle and sunny with a bleached feel. Katy is trying to find eggs during an Easter egg hunt and ends up finding old eggs in the attic that were painted long ago. The children hang all the eggs on an egg tree. While not specifically about pysanky, this is a lovely award-winning book that celebrates the art of the egg.
A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry
This book is not actually about pysanky, but it was the first book that really inspired me to decorate eggs, so I will include it here. Meg and her family have to move to the country so her father can finish his book. Meg makes friends with an older man who lives nearby and makes him a beautiful hand-painted, blown egg. This novel for the school-age and up is a lovely story about family and the fleeting nature of beauty.
Easter Eggs for Anya by Virginia Kroll
This is a story about Anya and her hope for a happy Easter. She is sad because her papa is away at war and her family has no spare eggs to create pysanky with. As luck would have it, Anya finds herself in the possession of four lovely goose eggs. Unfortunately for her, they were a bit too close to becoming goslings and they hatch before she gets a chance to decorate them. Anya is not disappointed for long, as her mama helps her realize that this means they will have eggs for every Easter from now on. The ending gets even happier. While there are directions in the back for making a pysanka, the directions are for the most basic of eggs, using just crayons and a hard-boiled egg. This is a nice book that explains a lot of the religious aspects of pysanky.