Book series draws on Ukrainian heritage

Long-time readers of Yorkton This Week might recall the name Marion Mutala.

Way back in 2012 the Saskatchewan-based author was in the city giving readings from Baba's Babushka:A Magical Ukrainian Christmas and Easter, a children's book drawn from Mutala's Ukrainian heritage.

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Then in 2020 an article appeared regarding the author's release of My Dearest Dido: The Holodomor Story a passionate account of the Great Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933, known as the Holodomor. Based on actual events and documented eyewitness accounts, this story consists of correspondence between two fictional characters – Hanusia Hrabowa in Saskatoon and her grandfather, Dido Bohdan, in Hafford, SK, supplemented by Hanusia's personal diary. The book is now available in audio form too.

And now Mutala, who grew up in the Hanley/Keaston area, but has lived in Saskatoon since 1980, has released Baba's Babushka: A Magical Journey to Ukraine which follows Baba's Babushka: Magical Ukrainian Adventure which has her first book in the series.

Tell us a bit about the story? Genre?

Historical fiction children's book but the adults love my stories as all the Ukrainian traditions are true for Christmas- sviat vechir , Easter and Wedding and all the places in Ukraine and Kyiv Book setting?

So from Hafford, Saskatchewan to western Ukraine and Kyiv, the reason for Hafford is my mom grew up there and my grandparents lived there and are buried there. This new collection of my four stories is  a celebration as it has been ten years since my first book came out in 2010. This is an anniversary collection. In the new story Baba and Dido go back to Ukraine and see all the historic sights which are true like the tunnels and St Sophia's church etc.

Mutala, who was a teacher for 30-years, said family has inspired her writings.

"My grandparents were my inspiration," she said. "My grandfather died before I was born. Stefan Dubyk and my grandmother Baba Tessie Woznakowski died when I was four years old but I always wondered about their life.

"Tessie wore a babushka and so that is my inspiration for my babushka in my stories. I have a different colour babushka for every story which takes Natalia back to Ukraine. My mom had this picture of my grandparent so that was the inspiration."

Interestingly the latest story has been on paper for years.

"It was actually the first book in the series," offered Mutala, who has no formal training as a writer.

"When I came back from Ukraine in 2009 I wrote that story and sent it to my publisher and she said Marion you have enough for five books. We took them apart and now have five books in the series."

While written for some time, Mutala recalls the effort of getting it done.

"Writing always takes work," she said. "If you want a good product you have to do lots of work and edits.

"However, I love writing and have never had writers block.

"It seems the more I write the more ideas flow."

So what does the author see as the best aspect of the book?

"The illustrations are so beautiful," said Mutala. "I have three illustrators for the four books but it looks wonderful.

"Each book has continuity though  my baba and dido appear in a photograph on the wall in each book and my mom Sophie Dubyk who is the baba in these stories she in the sky looking over Natalia in each book. The pictures are based on actual people in my family. I am the little girl Natalia and my dad August Mutala is the dido as well."

Mutala is proud of the latest book and of the series.

"Yes I love it and more importantly other people love it as well, especially adults," she said.

"It speaks to all people, even those that are not Ukrainians, as many people like learning about other cultures."

As for an audience Mutala hopes for broad readership.

"I sign all my books 'Peace Marion Mutala' as I am trying to promote peace in the world," she said.

"If you learn about my culture and I learn about yours we can be respectful, and learn to be tolerant of others."

The books may be published through the author's website at www.babasbabushka.caor they can phone 306-260-2393, The books are also or on Amazon, McNally Robinson,Coles or Indigo.

 

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