Ransome says in a note at the beginning that the stories in this book are those that Russian peasants tell their children and each other. It was written for English children who play in deep lanes with wild roses above them in the high hedges, or by the small singing becks that dance down the grey fells at home.
The tales include "Baba Yaga," the story of the famous witch who lived in a house that walked on chicken feet.
Ransome says in his autobiography that the English listeners know nothing of the world that in Russia listeners and storytellers take for granted. So rather than direct translation he read all the variants of the story and rewrote them with Old Peter, Vanya and Maroosia rather than the Ogre, the Elf and the Imp.