Illustration by H. J. Ford in Andrew Lang’s Yellow Fairy Book, 1894.
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.)
Henry J. Ford is best known for his illustrations of Andrew Lang’s color Fairy Tale books.
Another misleading fairy tale title! It’s not about princesses; it’s about the king, a father of teens. The tale begins and ends with him; it is he who transforms from being outraged by disobedience to accepting that–hey!–teenagers sneak out of the house. Throw a fit, but get over it. You did it yourself as a prince! And the old soldier? Couldn’t he be more appealing? Should he pick the youngest? the eldest? In the end, it doesn’t matter. The princesses sneak out, the soldier spies, but the king?–he is transformed, and that’s what fairy tales are about.
Do you have this tale in your library? If not, try these:
Grimm, Brothers, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, illustrated by Dorothee Duntze. NorthSouth, 2013.
Lang, Andrew, The Red Fairy Book. Any edition.
Pullman, Philip, Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm. Viking Adult, 2012. (He uses the alternate title, “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces.”
Shall I see you at the Texas Library Association Conference in San Antonio next week? I’m in booth 2511.