Before there was Stan Lee, there were X-men, mutant heroes. Storytellers call them “magical friends” for, with their mutant capabilities and unnatural powers, they befriend the hero in his quest. When I tell “The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship,” I call the seven heroes Hearsalot, Runsalot, Shootsalot, Eatsalot, and—by the time the last three arrive, kids are joining in: “Drinksalot!” “Strawsalot!” “Sticksalot!”
Without them, the Fool of the World could never have brought back the water of life from the well at the world’s end or foiled the Tsar’s tricks or married the Tsarevna!
Hooray for X-men!
Your quest for mutant heroes ends here: a picture book, a Classic Russian Collection, and a beloved Andrew Lang:
Ransome, Arthur, The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, illustrated by Uri Schulevitz. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968.
Ransome, Arthur, Old Peter’s Russian Tales. Mellon Press, 2008.
Lang, Andrew, The Yellow Fairy Book, illustrated by H. J. Ford. Reprinted by Flying Chipmunk Publishing, 2009. (Also available for Kindle and on the Gutenberg Project.)