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The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,824 ratings  ·  180 reviews
When the Czar proclaims that he will marry his daughter to the man who brings him a flying ship, the Fool of the World sets out to try his luck and meets some unusual companions on the way.
Paperback, 48 pages
Published May 1st 1987 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published 1968)
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3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,824 ratings  ·  180 reviews

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This is a long tale, but worth the reading of it. The poor fool is the youngest of 3 boys and the other 2 boys are clever. The parents both love the older boys and ignore the fool. A Czar sends out a message that any man who can bring a flying ship to him can have his daughter’s hand in marriage.

The fool sets off to find a flying ship after his brothers depart. He meets an ancient who likes the lad. The fool shares his meager meal with him and the ancient tells him how to get the ship. Once he
Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Russian folktales!!
“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
Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob)
I liked this, but didn't totally love it. It was a fascinating tale and the illustrations were interesting.

The only problem with this book really is that it is about around a 5th grade reading level and is a picture book. This has a lexile level of 810. For the sake of comparison, James Patterson's adult book "Along Came a Spider" is only about a 600 level.

It is also a very wordy picture book with many pages having multiple paragraphs.

If you have a parent who thinks picture books end at first
Jul 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture
I've encountered various versions of this story about a group of friends or brothers who each possess unexplained special abilities. Sometimes this tale is combined with that of the Fool of the World. This version was nothing special, and the rather boring illustrations did not enliven it.
I have a fondness for stories in which the underdog wins, and in the case of this story about a fool whose parents even seem disinterested in him, that's exactly what happens. After the czar announces that he'll offer his daughter in marriage to the man who brings him a flying ship, The Fool of the World sets off to make his way in the world and find that ship. Along the way, he has several chance encounters that lead to the ship and to his collecting a rowdy and unique group of men, each with h ...more
Kristine Hansen
I had hoped that as a Caldecott medal winner that this book would have better illustrations than the last version of this story that I'd read, but I was a bit disappointed. The best picture is the two-page spread of the ship setting sail over the countryside. But overall, I didn't really find anything to get excited about here. The tale is well-told. (Not much for mother-love, are we in this one?) but everything feels merely...adequate. A good story, with lots of interesting characters but that' ...more
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
A great educational book for your children of all ages. My 6 yr old loved it as well as my 3 yr old twins. Lots of good information with beautiful pictures that will help keep children engaged. A great addition to a study on fictions such as folk tales, legends or fables, or a history lesson on Russia. A great addition to any children's library.
Ms. B
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, picture, caldecott
A Caldecott winner from the late 1960s that I found wordy and sometimes confusing about a fool who is loved by all he meets. (view spoiler)
What a lovely and magical tale! Expect a thirty minute read-aloud experience.
Alexis Espinosa
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship is about a peasant who is treated unfairly by everyone, even his family. He goes on a quest to make a flying ship and meets new friends along the way who help him win the heart of a princess. The reading level of this book is first to third grade.

Comments/observations: The text was more focused toward explaining what was happening and not his surroundings so the pictures really helped with visualizing he setting. I also observed that the theme is good an
It took me forever to get into this story, but I enjoyed it once it finally got going. When the Fool starts picking up men for his flying ship, I immediately thought of Baron Munchausen, which was originally a book written by a German author named Rudolph Enrich Raspe and also turned into a 1989 cult classic movie called "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (which happens to be one of my favorite childhood movies). I enjoyed the illustrations by Uri Shulevitz, as they definitely helped move the ...more
Feb 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a wonderful folktale that tells of luck and cunning, the triumph of good (even if the person is simple or a fool) over that of treachery and deceit.

The pictures complement the story nicely and the story is not so long as to lose a child's interest, but long enough to incorporate some comforting repetition and a fairly predictable ending. Our girls enjoyed this book.

This book was selected as one of the books for the July 2015 - Quarterly Caldecott discussion at the Picture-Book Club in
Lauren Stoolfire
This Russian folktale tells the story of a poor fool unloved by his parents that gets extremely lucky by winning the hand of a princess with the help of a flying ship and its crew. The images are bright and beautiful with numerous Russian details to supplement the story. Overall, the moral or theme seems to be that God will provide for the good and the simple – not at all a traditional American story. An excellent children’s activity would be to make their own flying ship and crew by allowing th ...more
Jun 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, sf-fantasy
One of my all time favorite children's books/ fairy tales.
A young russian peasant, thought to be a bit of a knucklehead by his family and friends, decides to seek out his fortune and enter a contest to win the hand of the Czar's daughter.
Along the way he meets a long parade of people with magic powers who agree to come travel with him and help him out.
Along the way we discover, the Fool might be smarter than he's been getting credit for.

A great story told with wonderful illistrations, full of co
April Helms
Jan 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
The fool in the story, who is actually more clever than he appears, goes off to try his hand at adventure, and to win the hand of the Princess (actually, that would be Tsarevna, or, translated, “Grand Princess,” but that’s being extremely picky. Children will get the point) . On the way, he meets several interesting people who wind up playing an important role in his fortunes later. A very charming story, it almost reminds me of the trials of Thor in reverse. The illustrations are simple, “old f ...more
Mar 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Illustrated by Uri Shulevitz who wrote and illustrated "How I Learned Geography."

I enjoyed the colorful, interesting illustrations. The kids enjoyed the tale.

"But however it was with his father and mother, this is a story that shows that God loves simple folk, and turns things to their advantage in the end."

I thought that was cool. I don't think a book worded like that would win the Caldecott these days!
This is a story in which a czar promises his daughter's hand in marriage to anyone who can make a flying ship. Can the Fool do it?

This book was a little long. Too long for a bedtime snuggle. And a little boring as it went on and on and on to a bland ending.
"God loves simple folk, and turns things to their advantage in the end."
Kest Schwartzman
Apr 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I've read versions of this story, usually with any random three of the included supernatural peasants, but this is like trying to sit through someone singing every verse of Drunken Sailor they've ever heard.
Book Concierge
This retelling of a traditional Russian folk tale was awarded the Caldecott Medal for illustrations by Uri Sheulevitz. The fool is a peasant with limited resources; even his parents look down on him. So when the czar announces that the first person to bring him a flying ship will have his daughter’s hand in marriage, no one believes the Fool could possibly succeed. But he sets off anyway, and the adventure begins.

Shulevitz’s beautiful illustrations really enhance the story.
the 1969 Caldecott Winner, which is based in part, on a Russian folktale; though I know of the fool of the world and the flying ship through the Germanic legendary Baron Munchausen;
Anyway, the plot tells of a neglected foolish youth whom, after sharing his meager meal with a stranger, is given a gift of a flying ship and told to allow any traveler onboard. The czar is willing to marry off his daughter to anyone who can produce a flying ship.
Along the way the youth meets some very strange but u
Mikayla Parton
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: exam-1
This book was so much fun to read! This book might have been intended for 4-6 years of age and even though there are many sentences on each page, this book does supply some repetition. This story was originally published in 1916 and after the pictures were copyrighted in 1968, this book won The Caldecott Metal. The artwork is simply beautiful and rich in color; I was unable to find what Uri Shulevitz chose to use as his media, so my best guess is watercolor with pen to outline. The flying ship's ...more
Matthew Hunter
1969 Caldecott winner. "God loves simple folk" - does this quote make you: a) take offense, b) roll your eyes, c) cringe, d) abandon reading, e) bask in the glow of an underdog story? How much you'll like or despise this story will depend on your answer.

The artwork's fair to middling in my opinion. Caldecott-worthy? No. Too much white space as background to the illustrations.

The bedtime read was successful if measured solely by its ability to put the kids rapidly to sleep; less successful when d
Mar 30, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love the pictures drawn by Uri Shulevitz for this book. His painting skill makes it look at times as if the pages themselves have depth to them, and the illustrations definitely do form the heart of this story.

The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship is the retelling of a Russian folktale about a peasant boy who lacks common sense, and how God takes care of the boy and ends up elevating him beyond his smarter brothers (and all others, as well). The peasant boy proves his worth by accepting
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edlt-501
This Russian folktale retold by Arthur Ransome is beautifully written and illustrated. This would be a great addition to any folktale unit. I would recommend this for 2nd or 3rd grade due to the length of the text. This book would be a great opportunity to talk about humbleness, perseverance, contentment and sharing. Cheaters never prosper would be a great moral or lesson to learn from this story. This book would be a good resource to teaching comma usage and adjectives. This book could also hav ...more
This book was pretty interesting, I was reading along wondering how on earth it was all going to work out in the end. It is a fairly predictable beginning (feed the random stranger you meet up on the side of the road and they will give you some awesome gift) with a nice twist at the end.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I like this book because the fool goes on an adventure and finds lots of people on the way, and he picks them up too. He gets to the king, but the king doesn't want the princess to get married to the fool. And there was five fools: one was the person with magical sticks, and when he threw them on the ground they were soldiers and a different guy threw the straw and then he made things cold, which is also magical.
Lesley Looper
This story is a bit wordier than your normal "picture book," but it's an interesting Russian tale about a son with the lowest expectations from his family, who ends up with the Princess. The "Fool of the World" gets the prize in the end, beating out his sharper brothers, by sharing his food with a stranger at the beginning of the story, and following that stranger's advice (which, thank goodness, was good in this case!). Enjoyed the illustrations a lot--Uri Schulevitz strikes again!
Robert Davis
For me, this book falls a bit flat. The illustrations are colorful, but not very refined. The story itself is clever and imaginative, but I have never been fond of eastern European folktales in children's books, especially when they relate a religious message or touch upon dogma and ideology. Aside from that, the story is interesting, but could be updated to fit modern tastes. Frankly, this was a disappointment.
Nov 17, 2010 rated it liked it
I had this book as a child, bought it for myself. The only thing I remembered about the story were the pretty pictures and that's actually why I bought it. Now that I've read the story as an adult, I see why I forgot it altogether. For more:
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Arthur Michell Ransome was born in Leeds in 1884 and educated in Windermere and Rugby. His family spent their summers at Nibthwaite, to the south of Coniston Water.

In 1902, Ransome abandoned a chemistry degree to become a publisher's office boy in London. He used this precarious existence to practise writing, producing several minor works before Bohemia in London (1907), a study of London's artist