Folktales and stories passed down from generation to generation. This is merely one of the places that Patricia Polacco obtains her stories. Forever bringing children the joy of interesting stories with a small lesson to be learned (though whether or not children grasp it does not matter – as long as they have a good time reading!), Polacco entertains not only with her words, but also her illustrations.
Luba and the Wren is a slightly changed version of another well-known story, The Fisherman and His Wife. Polacco’s version is geared towards kids, which is why the main character is a young girl named Luba. One day when she is searching the forest for delicious mushrooms, she finds a poor little wren caught in a net. She frees it, and in return, the little bird grants her any wish she has. But she has no wish, as she is content to live as she always has. But her parents are not as selfless or content as her. They convince their daughter to ask for a bigger house. But then their wishes do not stop and they continue to ask for more and more, leaving their daughter less and less happy. Eventually the wren sees just how sad she has become, and knows what her true wish is. Only after the wren has changed everything back to the way it once was is Luba happy again.
Luba and the Wren is a gentle retelling of how greed does not solve problems (and often only creates more!), a small bird and a young girl reveal this lesson to children in a positive way. Readers will feel sorry for poor Luba and cheer when the wren finally takes things into her own hands (or rather, wings) and sets it all right.
As usual, Polacco delivers her picture books with soft but detailed illustrations, skillfully showing off a full range of emotions in Luba’s face and the little striped feathers of the bird. The illustrations are lovely and use gentle colors and decorative borders on each page and include old Russian style, such as when the parents’ house becomes a huge palace.