The Fool of the World is good for nothing. At least, that's what everyone says. One day the Czar offers his daughter's hand in marriage to the first man who can bring him a flying ship. The Fool's older brothers set off with their parents' blessing to seek their fortune. The Fool of the World decides that he would like to go. His own mother sends him off with hardly a word and only a few crusts of black bread to eat, but God loves the simple folk when even their parents forsake them. The Fool of the World may be simple, but he is kind, and wherever he goes help follows.
This simple Russian folk tale won the 1969 Caldecott medal. The gentle drawings depict a colorful Russian countryside and bring to life the Fool of the World's eccentric supernatural friends. The formula for this story is an old established fairy tale trope (e.g. the Five Chinese Brothers) yet Arthur Ransome's retelling drags on a bit too long. At forty-eight prose-heavy pages young readers may find their interest dwindling near the end. Still, Shulevitz's cheerful pictures brighten up the otherwise engaging story for a fanciful taste of Russian folklore.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here
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