The King's Equal

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Overview

Who is she?

A dying king makes his son his heir—on one condition. Vain Prince Raphael must marry a woman who is his equal in beauty, intelligence, and wealth...

Where is this woman?

A search throughout the kingdom proves fruitless. Then the lovely Rosamund appears at the palace, as if by magic, and Raphael is certain he has found his wife. She is intelligent and wealthy, as ...

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Overview

Who is she?

A dying king makes his son his heir—on one condition. Vain Prince Raphael must marry a woman who is his equal in beauty, intelligence, and wealth...

Where is this woman?

A search throughout the kingdom proves fruitless. Then the lovely Rosamund appears at the palace, as if by magic, and Raphael is certain he has found his wife. She is intelligent and wealthy, as well as beautiful—certainly his equal, he thinks.

But what does the mysterious Rosamund think?"Finding a princess who is the 'king's equal' in comeliness, intelligence, and wealth is an order that confounds the wisest, most loyal councilors in this distant realm. Finding a book equal in quality to this one is an even more formidable task. [Newbery medalist] Paterson weaves her story within the structure of familiar fairy tales. . . . Vagin's illustrations are exquisite." —SLJ.

1993 Teachers' Choices (IRA)
1992 Irma Simonton Black Award (Bank Street College of Education)
1993 Children's Booksellers' Choices (Association of Booksellers for Children)

Author Biography:

Katherine Paterson is one of the world's most renowned children's book authors. Ms. Paterson has received the National Book Award twice and has won the Newbery Medal for both Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved. She is also the author of two other I Can Read Books featuring Marvin, The Smallest Cow in the World and Marvin's Best Christmas Present Ever. Ms. Paterson lives in Barre, Vermont.

In order to wear the crown of the kingdom, an arrogant young prince must find an equal in his bride. Instead, he finds someone far better than he.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW starred this "entertaining and enchanting" story of a conceited prince in search of a bride who is his equal, and who then discovers he is the one who must prove his worthiness. Ages 7-10. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Novels that speak to all ages are satisfying books for family reading. Equality finds fairy tale expression in Paterson's The King's Equal. Raphael is a greedy, egotistical prince whose inheritance rests on finding a woman whose beauty, intelligence and wealth match his own. Welcome Rosamund who is greater than his equal! Raphael learns and then proves his love through humility, honesty, and hard work. The mysticism, the author's splendid word choices, and the dedicated design and detailing by Vagin elevate the principle of equality to new heights.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6-- Finding a princess who is the ``king's equal'' in comeliness, intelligence, and wealth is an order that confounds the wisest, most loyal councilors in this distant realm. Finding a book equal in quality and brilliance to this one is an even more formidable task. Paterson weaves her story within the structure of familiar fairy tales; she includes romance, repetition of language, the number three, and a moral of goodness and love triumphing over selfishness and greed. Her careful attention to the beauty and variety of descriptive language is evident on every page. The story gains dimension with the inclusion of ``the Wolf.'' At first glimpse, he seems a menacing, negative force, but he is revealed ultimately to be the purveyor of magic, and even the perfect matchmaker. He never intrudes upon court life in the capital city, but remains in his remote mountain lair, an enigmatic character to ponder at the story's end. Vagin's illustrations are exquisite, luminous in color, clarity, and precision. Readers are drawn into the courtly world of a wealthy kingdom through details of costume, architecture, furniture, and decorations. Because there are six chapters, the book is a lengthy read-aloud. This is, however, no drawback; young listeners will be a spellbound and appreciative audience, and should want to return to the book again and again. --Martha Rosen, Edgewood School, Scarsdale, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060224974
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/1992
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.38 (w) x 10.35 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine Paterson was born in China, where she spent part of her childhood. After her education in China and the American South, she spent four years in Japan, the setting for her first three novels. Ms. Paterson has received numerous awards for her writing, including National Book Awards for The Master Puppeteer and The Great Gilly Hopkins, as well as Newbery Medals for Jacob Have I Loved and Bridge to Terabithia. Ms. Paterson lives with her husband in Vermont. They have four grown children.

Vladimir Vagin lived in Russia until he moved to the United States in 1990. Mr. Vagin has illustrated several books for children, including Katherine Paterson’s The King’s Equal and Celia and the Sweet, Sweet Water. He lives in Middletown Springs, VT.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Many years ago in a country far away, an old king lay dying. Now the king was very wise and very good, and all the people loved him, so they were sad to know that he would soon leave them. But what made them even sadder was the knowledge that the king's son, Prince Raphael, would become their next ruler.

Prince Raphael was as rich and handsome as a prince should be. His father had assembled scholars from all over the world to teach him, so he was highly educated. The people should have been proud to have Raphael as their next king, but instead they were afraid.

"Look at his eyes," they said, "and see the arrogance of a man who admires only himself."

"Look at his mouth," they said, "and see the sneer of a man who thinks everyone else is stupid."

"Look at his hands," they said, "and see the grasp of a man who thinks everyone else's goods are his for the taking."

The old king, even while he was dying, understood the fears of his people. Just before the end, he called his son and all the councilors of the realm to come to his chamber.

"My son," he said, "with my last words, I want to give you my blessing."

"Well, of course," said Raphael, although he was far more interested in his father's lands and gold than he was in the good king's last words.

"You will become ruler when I die," the old king said, "for that is the ancient law that cannot be changed. But you will not wear my crown until the day you marry a woman who is your equal in beauty and intelligence and wealth."

The prince was angry at his father's words. "That is not a blessing!" he exclaimed. "That is a curse! Where shall I find aprincess who is equal to me in every way?" Raphael demanded that the king take back this strange blessing. But the king shook his head, and that very night he breathed his last breath and died.

Prince Raphael was so angry that he refused to mourn his father's death. When the councilors suggested that the flags be lowered and that the people be given time off from their work for the funeral, he was angrier still. "There will be plenty of time for holiday when I am crowned king," he said. "Tell the people to get back to work."

With heavy hearts the councilors announced there would be no period of mourning for the beloved old king. The only comfort they had was that Raphael might never be crowned. For where would such an arrogant man find a woman he would admit was his equal in every way?

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Reading Group Guide

Introduction:

The King's Equal is two-time Newbery medalist Katherine Paterson's critically acclaimed fairy tale about an arrogant young prince who must find a woman who is his equal in beauty, intelligence, and wealth. The discussion topics, suggested reading list, and author biography in this reading group guide are intended to spark discussion about the interesting characters and adventures in this enchanting original fairy tale. Once upon a time, a dying king names his son, selfish Prince Raphael, ruler of the kingdom–on one condition: Raphael cannot wear the crown until he marries a woman who equals him in beauty, intelligence, and wealth. Raphael is so arrogant he believes that he never will be able to find a woman who is as smart or good-looking as himself, so he focuses on expanding his wealth and soon his greed makes him the richest person in the whole kingdom. But one thing he wants most is the thing he hasn't earned–the crown to the kingdom.

Because Raphael is unhappy without the crown, he demands that his councilors search the world over for the princess who is his equal. Eventually, through the shrewd powers of a magical wolf, a poor but clever young maiden named Rosamund is chosen. But the story does not end there. Rosamund is a strong woman who wants her husband to be her equal as much as she is his. So she presents Raphael with a proposition that he cannot refuse if he wishes to win Rosamund as his wife. Consequently, Raphael retreats to the woods and learns about the kind of wealth that will make him truly happy and equal to fair Rosamund.

Questions For Discussion:

  1. Describe the way Raphaelleads his subjects. Does he have his kingdom's best interests at heart? How does Rosamund rule differently than Raphael? Which method is more effective?
  2. Why does the king demand that the prince marry a woman who is equal to the prince in "beauty, intelligence, and wealth" (page 4)? What is the king trying to accomplish with this request?
  3. Consider the importance of the wolf in the story. Why does he appear at first as if he is trying to steal Rosamund's goat, and then turn around and perform great favors for Rosamund? How is this wolf different from wolves in traditional fairy tales?
  4. How is The King's Equal like and unlike fairy tales you have read before? Consider the similarities and differences between The King's Equal and fairy tales such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.
  5. Why does Rosamund request that Raphael enter the woods for a year and bring back her goats? What is she trying to teach Raphael with this command?
  6. What does Raphael learn while he is forced to live in the woods and care for the goats? How does the wolf help him learn what he needs to know in order to survive? How are Raphael's former attitudes humbled by living in the wilderness?
  7. Discuss the moral of The King's Equal. In your discussion, consider Rosamund's statement to the prince: "Perhaps you are poorer than I, for there is nothing I desire that I do not already possess" (page 38). What does it mean to be truly wealthy?
  8. As you read, how did you think the story would end? How are your predictions similar or different from the author's ending?
  9. In her National Book Award acceptance speech for The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson said, "The wonderful thing about being a writer is that it gives you readers, readers who bring their own stories to the story you have written, people who have the power to take your mythic, unbelievable, ten-foot-high characters and fit them to the shape of their own lives." Even though The King's Equal is a fairy tale, can you find similarities between characters in The King's Equal and people in your own life? In your own words, explain what Katherine Paterson meant by this quote.
  10. Pick volunteers from the group to "act" like Rosamund and put themselves in her shoes. What would Rosamund say about Raphael? What kind of complaints would she have about him? How would she feel about him when he returned from the mountains?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2002

    strong female character

    A fairy tale with a prince in need of help, a bright and kind young girl and a bit of magic -- excellent combination.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2000

    Cute

    Cute story for smaller children. Nice plot and character.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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