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Posted April 30, 2007
Uri Shulevitz was born in Warsaw, and spent his early years in Europe. He lived in Israel from 1949 to 1959, and now lives in New York City. He is the illustrator of One Monday Morning, and the author illustrator of The Moon in My Room. He received the Caldecott Medal in 1969 for The fool Of The World And The Flying Ship: A Russian Tale. It is retold by Arthur Ransome, who received the first Carnegie Medal in 1936 for Pigeon Post. He witness the Bolshevik Revolution, and later expelled by the Soviet regime. While in Russia, he collected folk tales including The fool Of The World And The Flying Ship that were retold in Old Peter¿s Russian Tales. Ransome was eighty-three when he died in 1967. The Fool of the World was a peasant boy who lived with his parents and two brothers. Everyone looked down on the Fool, including his parents. One day the Czar of the country sent messengers around to let everyone know that if they could get him a flying ship, he would give that person his daughters hand in marriage. His two brothers set off immediately to build the ship, and their mother packed them a fine meal and corn brandy. The Fool wanted to go, but his mother only packed him some crust of black bread and a flask of water. On his travels he ran into an ancient man who asked him where he was going. He told him, and said that he did not know how to build the ship. The man asked him sit down to share his lunch with him, but the Fool told him that the lunch was not suitable for company. The ancient man did not mind that, and the Fool opened him sack of food. In his bag was wonderful meal instead of what his mother had packed for him. The ancient man told him to go into the forest and gave him some instructions. Once he followed his instructions, a flying ship would be waiting for him. The Fool did what he was told, and his ship awaited him. He picked up all the people along the way, just as he was told to do. Once he landed in the Czars palace, the Czar did not want a peasant to marry his daughter. The Czar began to order the Fool to perform different tasks. With each task ordered, the Fool and his companions managed to complete each one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 16, 2001
Humorous Tale of Magic and Faith with Great Illustrations
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship won the Caldecott Medal in 1969 as the best illustrated American children's book in that year. The illustrations feature bright colors, subtle shadings, and stylistically interesting pen highlights to suggest outlines and details. The illustrations take you enjoyably into a magical world for a fascinating journey, and greatly add to the pleasure of this traditional Russian tale. The story is build around the theme of: 'You see how God loves simple folk.' A family has three sons, two who are clever and one who is foolish. 'He was as simple as a child, simpler than some children, and he never did anyone a harm in his life.' The parents were proud of their clever sons and disappointed in their foolish one. When the news comes that the Czar wants a flying ship, the parents support the efforts of the two clever sons. They set off and are never heard from again. When the foolish son sets off, he gets the the minimum of support and encouragement. He soon runs into 'an ancient old man with a bent back, and a long beard, and eyes hidden under his bushy eyebrows.' The foolish son offers to share his meager food, apologizing to the ancient man. But when he opens his bag, marvelous food appears instead. The ancient man has magical powers and teaches the foolish son how to make a flying ship for the Czar. The ancient man also advises the foolish son to take along everyone he meets on his trip to the Czar's palace to deliver the flying ship. Along the way, the foolish son meets a most unusual set of people with great individualized talents. As you read the book, you will be wondering what their significance could possibly be. They turn out to be a sort of 19th century X-Men. The promised reward for bringing the flying ship had been the hand of the Czar's daughter in marriage and a rich dowry. When the foolish son arrives, the Czar's men report that those in the ship are only a bunch of uncouth peasants. As a result, the Czar doesn't want to make good on his promise, so he sets up extreme challenges (not unlike the Wizard of Oz). Using the remarkable talents of his passengers, all of the tests are met by the foolish son. The foolish son is married to the Czar's daughter, and they live happily ever after. The foolish son then 'became so clever that all the court repeated everything he said.' As you can see, the story is also a satire on the people who think they are clever or know how to identify cleverness. They often outsmart themselves. The Czar wanted a flying ship, but would have been much better off making good use of the talents of the peasants who were already part of his kingdom. Also, we are never told what use he made of the flying ship. It appears that he gave his daughter away for a whim. The winning man might as easily have been a terrible person. The courtiers also thought that anyone who was powerful was clever. I laughed aloud several times while reading the story. Unlike most children's stories for this age group (4-8), this book has a richness of plot, character development, and humor that makes it more like a novel. After you have finished enjoying the story with your child, I suggest that the two of you have some fun talking about places where 'clever' people act foolishly and vice versa. You can help your child see the bright side of much of the nonsense that goes on around us. Be foolish in providing and seeking out help, and a great bounty of friendship will be yours! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent SolutionWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.