Thursday, February 25, 2016
The Most Wonderful Thing in the World, written by Vivian French and illustrated by Angela Barrett. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2015. $22.00 ages 5 and up
Princess Lucia is well-loved and fiercely protected by doting parents. Her parents, the king and queen, suddenly come face-to-face with the fact that she will one day be the reigning monarch. That sets them on a quest to find her a husband.
To that end, they send a letter to Old Angelo, believed to be the wisest man in the kingdom, asking how they might best choose a suitor and husband for their beloved daughter. Old Angelo suggests that they choose a man who brings them 'the most wonderful thing in the world'. Thus, the two begin examining the many items brought to them, meant to be representative of what they are seeking.
Meanwhile Lucia, tired of being protected within the walls of the castle, goes in search of someone willing to show her the city. She meets Salvatore, Old Angelo's grandson, and he agrees to be her tour guide. As they wander city streets, visiting markets, shops and other interesting sights, the royal parents are being bombarded by interested suitors and their many examples of what they think are the most wonderful things - airplanes, artwork, performing dogs, magical beasts, a wind machine and more. It is an endless display.
It isn't until they have wandered the streets for days, that Salvatore learns the identity of the young woman he has been escorting. He is distraught when he talks with his grandfather about the improbability of any future for the two. Old Angelo is confident that things will work out, Salvatore does not agree.
When her parents realize Lucia is not in the palace, they become anxious and begin asking for information concerning her whereabouts. They learn that she has gone to Old Angelo's island with Salvatore. They follow her. There, after all their searching for a suitable partner, they are jubilant to hear Salvatore's brilliant response to their quest. It's the 'happy ever after' ending expected for a fairy tale!
Angela Barrett's elegant and graceful watercolor artwork is rife with lovely color and brilliant detail, creating a world that will capture attention. You don't want to miss the chance to savor every single page. She creates the magic that makes this new fairy tale a winner!