Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends

Celebrating 2018 Immigrant Heritage Month | A talk by children's book author L.B. O'Milla

Event Venue:

Pelham Parkway-Van Nest Library
2147 Barnes Avenue
Bronx, NY 10462

Event Date:

Friday, June 22, 2018 | 3 PM

Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends by L.B. O'Milla (Goodreads Author) 

Release date: Apr 20, 2017


This book is an exciting new adventure classic with an unforgettable combination of American fantasy elements and Russian folklore enjoyable for middle graders through adults.

When Little Yaga leaves the safety of her forest home and encounters the human world, she finds herself in the midst of an amazing adventure with new surprising friends who combine forces against the malevolent ruler of the forest, Scraggard the Immortal.

As Little Yaga discovers the secrets of her forest home and her own origins, she learns about modern technology while coming in contact with creatures and settings straight out of Russian fables and mythology.

Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends: Spotlight and Giveaway - Official Review

Interview with the author via The Pen & Muse

Interview with YA author L. B. O'Milla via Lisa Haselton


“New Jersey author L. B. O’Milla comes to her gift of melding fantasy, mythology, magic and adventure into young adult and juvenile fiction with a history to note: she was born in Kiev, Ukraine and when her family was forced to leave to escape religious persecution she followed her goal to prepare for a career in journalism and creative writing, and after obvious fine training she presents THE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE YAGA AND HER FRIENDS –and an auspicious entry into the realm of innovative, meaningful juvenile fiction it is! She manages to meld her knowledge of Russian folklore with a keen appreciation for American fantasy and offers a story that will not only entertain with her wildly imaginative characters, but also carry some important lessons in building and defending friendships that will provide valuable insights to the readers

Some may compare her style to Zhukovsky, Pushkin, Gogol and Turgenev and other great Russian authors, but O’Milla’s language is securely her own, bathed in the light of her Americana vantage of themes and myths. It appears that Little Yaga is here to stay. Highly Recommended.“- Grady Harp, Top 100 Hall of Fame Amazon Reviewer

“In a world where kids send “leaves” whooshing back and forth in the forest as their “texts,” one can’t help but fall in love with Little Yaga, the main character in O’Milla’s tween fantasy, Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends.

Little Yaga does not want to be different – that is, she wants to look like the other forest dwellers, instead of having her too-human legs and fang-less teeth. As she tries to fit in, she is shunned by the school’s “hot” guy and is ever the disappointment of her grouchy but good-hearted grandmother, who is raising her.

Running late for school one morning, Little Yaga sees Ashley, a human girl her age who is lost in the forest. She defies the ruler of their forest by helping the girl home, instead of capturing her for his evil energy drink. This starts a series of events that takes Little Yaga out of the safety of her forest into Ashley’s very human world, where she winds up in a chase to save her friends while at the same time unraveling the mystery of her very human legs. This fun story is of young love, friendships between those of different cultures, and a fantastic mix of Russian folklore and American technology. I found myself rooting for Little Yaga as well as her spunky friend Kikimra and the boys they find attractive.

Author O’Milla grew up as a Jewish girl in Russia, where her family was persecuted for their religious faith. At age 26, she fled to American with her husband and daughter, where she learned English and fulfilled a life-long dream of writing a book. You can see how her characters and story probably relate to some of the challenges she and her own children faced while trying to fit in to the new culture. She does a wonderful job of writing about inclusion, friendship, and the struggles to be liked by your piers that any teen (and most adults) can relate to.

My favorite parts in the book are the mix of Russian literature, which include Milkshake Rivers, trees that throw acorns and grab your hair, and the evil Scraggard the Immortal who views the forest on his “flat screen” that a human installed for him. O’Milla’s world is so magical and fun that it’s a place you can feel yourself in. She brings it and her characters to life in an almost – well, magical – way.

I gave this book to a middle-schooler to read, but as an adult I absolutely loved it myself. I think her story will appeal to readers of all ages, and the themes of inclusion, friendship and young love will resonate with a wide audience.I highly recommend it. Five Stars.”- Pamela Grossiaux

Excerpts from Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends

Looking down at her fully revealed legs, Little Yaga sighed. Why was her left leg so humanlike? Oh, how she wanted to look like her classmates and most other inhabitants of the Forest! Their left legs had no flesh or skin, only bare bones.

Little Yaga walked around her. The girl had two legs made of flesh and skin just like hers. She had white teeth with no fangs. Her mouth and nose were small, but her eyes were big. Also, her hair grew only on her head, unlike most of Little Yaga’s classmates, who had tufts of hair on their faces, hands, and stomachs. Little Yaga didn’t have any on her face or hands, and there were only a few tiny patches on her stomach. Her grandmother said she would grow more when she got older.

Suddenly, a blow to her right shoulder almost knocked her off her feet. Right behind her, she heard Ashley groan. Little Yaga turned around; Ashley was holding her left shoulder and biting her lip, trying not to cry. Little Yaga was about to say something when, suddenly, Ashley’s eyes widened in horror. She pushed Little Yaga down onto the ground and fell next to her. Before Little Yaga could get angry, she saw a barrage of acorns zipping over their heads, in the very spot where they’d just been standing. If Ashley hadn’t reacted so quickly, they would’ve been badly hurt. Once the whistling of acorn fire ceased, Little Yaga cautiously raised her head and saw the huge Oak Tree in the distance, growing in the middle of the road.

Scraggard snapped the screen back on, and Stanley thought the image it displayed looked just like one from Google Earth.

“Mr. Scraggard, you’ve got Internet?” he asked, surprised.

“Your Scraggardness,” Scraggard corrected the boy without taking his eyes off the screen.

“Your Scraggardness, have you got the Internet?” Stanley repeated his question.
“What kind of net?”
“The Internet. Isn’t that Google Earth up there?”
“Who’s Google? Never heard of him.”Scraggard looked at Stanley in annoyance. “This is not Google’s Earth; this is Scraggard’s Forest.”

 “What are these beasts?” Kikimra shrank back, keeping her distance from the growling creatures.

“These ‘beasts’ are called Segways,” Eric said. “Don’t be afraid—they don’t bite. They’re not your hungry jackals; trust me. We’ll use them to get to Scraggard’s palace.”

About the Author

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 her Jewish heritage and 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 to escape religious persecution. 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 worked very hard to learn English, so that her first book could be written in English, 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. 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 such as skiing, hiking and kayaking; she travels as much as she can. 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.

Event listing @ NYPL

RACC's events are made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the city Council, Cojeco and Tianaderrah Foundation.