Author: Arthur Ransome
Artist: Uri Shulevitz
Genre: Russia / Magic / Friendship / Royalty
Year Published: 1968
Year Read: 2004
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Content Rating: Ages 6+ (Themes of Child Mistreatment and Some Suggestive Themes)
“The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship” has become one of the most popular folktales ever told and is masterfully told by Arthur Ransome. This book is set in a world full of both magic and wonders and shows that even simple folk can accomplish anything they set their minds to.
“The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship” is an extremely imaginative tale of wits and confidence. Arthur Ransome does an excellent job at narrating this story in a more simplistic tone, indicating that this story is told from a peasant’s perspective on the whole incident. The message of this story clearly cuts through as it describes how good-natured people, like the fool, can achieve anything they set their hearts to if they have good friends and believe that they can achieve that goal. Also, the quote that constantly runs throughout the book is this simple quote,
“God loves simple folk.”
Now, this message may seem a bit offensive to some religious audience, but it does show how the fool got through his situation by believing in God.
While Uri Shulevitz’s illustrations are humorously drawn, I thought that the drawings made the story seem a bit too simplistic for my tastes. There is barely any background for most of the story as the sky is just a blank space and very few trees are drawn to emphasize that the fool or his friends are in the forest or any other secluded place. Also, the way that the Tsar’s palace was drawn as a wooden home did not seem to faze me one bit as I imagined the Tsar’s palace to be more miraculous than any other place in the story.
“The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship” is a classic story about a young man’s journey to prove himself worthy in everyone’s eyes and how important true friendship really is. This theme of the story interested me so much that I really enjoyed the creativity and morality of the story and I would strongly recommend this title to anyone interested in Russian folktales. Also, I would recommend the Rabbit Ears version of this classic tale called "The Fool and the Flying Ship" narrated by Robin Williams which is extremely funny and imaginative and I think that it will make a good impression on the younger audience for all time.