On his deathbed, the wise old king decrees that his arrogant son
will not inherit the crown until he marries "a woman who is your
equal in beauty and intelligence and wealth." Angry, and
misunderstanding this "blessing," Prince Raphael sets about
impoverishing his people and rejecting a procession of princesses
who may excel in one quality, but never in three. In the meantime,
Rosamund, a shepherd lass, shares the last of her grain with a
hungry (but gentle) wolf;, magically, his presence replenishes the
grain and he recognizes her as queen-to-be. He sends her to the
palace, where her wisdom and compassion charm Raphael. Still, he
must now prove himself to her: leaving Rosamund to put his kingdom
to rights, he repairs to her hut, where the animals help him learn
cooperation, competence, and humility. There's a lesson here, of
course, but Paterson (unlike many who use folkloric motifs to
project contemporary messages) shapes her tale with such grace,
narrative skill, and good humor that the lesson is a pleasure.
Vagin, a Russian introduced with Here Comes the Cart (1989), offers
sumptuous, elegantly detailed illustrations of the court, bordered
in serene pastoral landscapes, in more muted colors, which also
adorn chapter heads. A handsome book; an entertaining,
thought-provoking story. (Kirkus Reviews)
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)
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