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The Most Wonderful Thing in The World

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From the author of the Tiara Club series comes a gently satirical fairy story for our times,illustrated by one of today’s finest artists, Angela Barrett. When a king and a queen promise to marry their daughter Lucia to the man who can show them the most wonderful thing in the world, suitors descend on the palace bearing gifts. Roses, jewels and exotic birds; dancing girls, From the author of the Tiara Club series comes a gently satirical fairy story for our times,illustrated by one of today’s finest artists, Angela Barrett. When a king and a queen promise to marry their daughter Lucia to the man who can show them the most wonderful thing in the world, suitors descend on the palace bearing gifts. Roses, jewels and exotic birds; dancing girls, wind machines and mythical beasts – but nothing feels quite right. As the last suitor leaves, his weapons of mass destruction rejected, the king and queen are exhausted. But when a shy, young man, who isn’t a suitor at all, steps forward, they finally understand what the most wonderful thing in the world really is. Vivian French’s masterful retelling of a forgotten story is both funny and heart-warming, and Angela Barrett’s breathtaking illustrations give life to an enchanting and romantic fairytale city.


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From the author of the Tiara Club series comes a gently satirical fairy story for our times,illustrated by one of today’s finest artists, Angela Barrett. When a king and a queen promise to marry their daughter Lucia to the man who can show them the most wonderful thing in the world, suitors descend on the palace bearing gifts. Roses, jewels and exotic birds; dancing girls, From the author of the Tiara Club series comes a gently satirical fairy story for our times,illustrated by one of today’s finest artists, Angela Barrett. When a king and a queen promise to marry their daughter Lucia to the man who can show them the most wonderful thing in the world, suitors descend on the palace bearing gifts. Roses, jewels and exotic birds; dancing girls, wind machines and mythical beasts – but nothing feels quite right. As the last suitor leaves, his weapons of mass destruction rejected, the king and queen are exhausted. But when a shy, young man, who isn’t a suitor at all, steps forward, they finally understand what the most wonderful thing in the world really is. Vivian French’s masterful retelling of a forgotten story is both funny and heart-warming, and Angela Barrett’s breathtaking illustrations give life to an enchanting and romantic fairytale city.

30 review for The Most Wonderful Thing in The World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I have fallen rather violently in love with illustrator Angela Barrett and am snapping up anything she's done wherever I can find it. Fortunately she seems to work exclusively with equally outstanding authors. This is a wonderful, light and lovely fairy tale about a kind, but slightly distracted, king and queen who suddenly realize that if their beloved daughter is to one day be queen she will need to have a husband to be king. But how shall they choose the right man for their perfect child? Why I have fallen rather violently in love with illustrator Angela Barrett and am snapping up anything she's done wherever I can find it. Fortunately she seems to work exclusively with equally outstanding authors. This is a wonderful, light and lovely fairy tale about a kind, but slightly distracted, king and queen who suddenly realize that if their beloved daughter is to one day be queen she will need to have a husband to be king. But how shall they choose the right man for their perfect child? Why by dashing off a letter to "Old Angelo" the wisest man in the land who informs them that only the man who can find "the most wonderful thing in the world" will be worthy of their daughter. To keep Princess Lucia from discovering their "surprise" they allow their previously sheltered daughter to finally leave the palace and explore their marvelous kingdom. Sweet Lucia is very eager to explore the country she'll one day rule but she needs a guide. Fortunately Francesco, Old Angelo's grandson and the messenger who dropped off his reply to the king and queen, hasn't gone back to his grandfather's island yet and when a beautiful young woman asks if he'll show her the sights he's happy to oblige. Everything about this delighted me. Vivian French has a wonderful, light prose style that is both sweet and just a tiny bit tart. There are some clever quips and even a few dark moments peppered throughout this fairy tale (there's a prince who thinks weapons of mass destruction are "the most wonderful thing in the world) and its genuinely marvelous to read about all the creatures and gadgets and art work and scientific breakthroughs all the prospective princes bring to show the increasingly exhausted king and queen. The gentle romance between Francesco and Lucia is also lovely. I thrive on any fairy tale that doesn't rely on "insta love" and its equally great to see Lucia realizing how important it is for her to know her people and her country intimately if she hopes to be a good queen. In just a few pages you watch the pair bond over their mutual interests and delight in the city. Then there are Barrett's paintings. These are illustrations to dive into and swim around in for hours. Each one is this amazing, intricate puzzle with a thousand dazzling details to find. I could almost believe that French wrote specific "wonderful things" just so Barrett could draw them. There's a leopard with fur like the night sky, blue black dappled with stars and moons. There's a "frozen piece of sky" that looks like a puzzle piece made of clouds. A car that drives on water, a mermaid in a tank, dancers, flowers, every exotic, amazing creation you can think of. Our hero's and heroine's are equally dazzling. She manages such depth of feeling in every face. The exhaustion on the king and queen's faces as they grow increasingly weary of finding someone worthy of their daughter. The despair on Francesco's face when he realizes Lucia is a princess. The gentle wisdom of Old Angelo. You just want to sit and stare at everything for hours. Which is about the highest compliment I can give a picture book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    A king and queen, mindful of the fact that their beloved daughter, the Princess Lucia, will one day rule their kingdom, set out to find the perfect husband for her. After consulting Wise Old Angelo, who advises them to accept the suit of the man who presents them with "the most wonderful thing in the world," they find that they have a long list of prospective bridegrooms to vet. Lucia, in the meantime, makes Wise Old Angelo's nephew Salvatore her guide to the city, and the two slowly fall in lov A king and queen, mindful of the fact that their beloved daughter, the Princess Lucia, will one day rule their kingdom, set out to find the perfect husband for her. After consulting Wise Old Angelo, who advises them to accept the suit of the man who presents them with "the most wonderful thing in the world," they find that they have a long list of prospective bridegrooms to vet. Lucia, in the meantime, makes Wise Old Angelo's nephew Salvatore her guide to the city, and the two slowly fall in love. When Salvatore discovers the identity of his lady love, he despairs of ever winning her hand, until he realizes that he might know what the most wonderful thing in the world is... As a long-time admirer of Angela Barrett's gorgeous fairy-tale artwork - her version of Snow White is one of my absolute favorites, while the artwork she contributed to Max Eilenberg's Beauty and the Beast is simply breathtaking! - I was very excited when I happened upon The Most Wonderful Thing in the World, a lovely original fairy-tale from author Vivian French. The story reads like a traditional tale, with some wonderful contemporary details, like the fact that one of the suitors think that weapons (of mass destruction) are the most wonderful thing in the world. The ending, for all that I expected it, was quite satisfying. The artwork, done in watercolor, was just lovely, with all of the many enchanting details and magical vistas that I have come to expect from Angela Barrett. Highly recommended to all fairy-tale lovers, as well as to fellow Barrett fans!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shiloah

    Great story with a good sense of values. Exquisite illustrations!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Juliana Lee

    The king and queen of a beautiful land had one daughter whom they loved more than anything else in the world. In fact, they loved her so much that they kept her within the walls of the palace and never let her out of their sight. Then one day they realized that she would need to marry someone so that she could become queen and rule the land someday. So they sent a message out to Old Angelo asking for his help. Angelo sent his grandson to deliver a message: Find a suitor who can show you the most The king and queen of a beautiful land had one daughter whom they loved more than anything else in the world. In fact, they loved her so much that they kept her within the walls of the palace and never let her out of their sight. Then one day they realized that she would need to marry someone so that she could become queen and rule the land someday. So they sent a message out to Old Angelo asking for his help. Angelo sent his grandson to deliver a message: Find a suitor who can show you the most wonderful thing you have ever seen. He will make a suitable husband for your daughter. The king and queen began receiving suitors at the palace. They were so busy turning down suitors that they didn’t realize that their daughter was going out every day with Angelo’s grandson who had fallen in love with her. When they had finally given up on finding a suitor for the princess, they finally noticed that the princess was not in her rooms. Someone had seen her leave with Angelo’s grandson, so the king and queen went to Angelo’s home to find her. There, Angelo’s grandson showed them the most wonderful thing in the world… their daughter. Soon the princess was married to Angelo’s grandson and they ruled the land. The people loved them so much that they erected a statue in the middle of the city of the royal couple and their child. The statue was inscribed with the words: The Most Wonderful Thing in the World. http://julianaleewriter.com/books-ali...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Truly magical. The text might be a little long for tots, but the illustrations are lovely, and worth squinting over. So much detail. I love the different 'wonderful things' that the suitors bring, especially the giraffe the size of a greyhound. And I love the theme of the story. I will definitely look for more of this sort by the author, and more by the illustrator. Truly magical. The text might be a little long for tots, but the illustrations are lovely, and worth squinting over. So much detail. I love the different 'wonderful things' that the suitors bring, especially the giraffe the size of a greyhound. And I love the theme of the story. I will definitely look for more of this sort by the author, and more by the illustrator.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This book would be suitable to read with KS2 children up to year 6. It has examples of other forms of writing, such as invitations and letters which could be used to study the characteristics of these and for children to write their own. The story has very detailed illustrations which are laid out in various ways including as borders to frame the text. It is similar to a traditional fairy story and could be read as a class or in shared/group reading. It also features good morals which are suitab This book would be suitable to read with KS2 children up to year 6. It has examples of other forms of writing, such as invitations and letters which could be used to study the characteristics of these and for children to write their own. The story has very detailed illustrations which are laid out in various ways including as borders to frame the text. It is similar to a traditional fairy story and could be read as a class or in shared/group reading. It also features good morals which are suitable for the children.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Abrey

    A beautifully illustrated story of a king and queen looking for a suitable husband for their daughter. Upon the recommendations of a wise man, the man suitable for their daughter will be the one who is able to show them 'the most wonderful thing in the world'. A beautifully illustrated story of a king and queen looking for a suitable husband for their daughter. Upon the recommendations of a wise man, the man suitable for their daughter will be the one who is able to show them 'the most wonderful thing in the world'.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Lybbert

    A lovely original fairy tale with a great discovery.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe Ledster

    The detailed illustrations add so much depth to this story- it’s really one to take your time exploring. It’s a beautiful narrative showing the difference between materialism and finding value in people and relationships. A lovely story to share with children.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    A romantic, fairy tale-like story, elegantly designed and illustrated.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    A beautifully illustrated fairy tale. A little silly in places and a bit text heavy, but a fun story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    Oh wow! That was so beautiful! I loved the morale of the story and the illustrations were absolutely stunning!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    The Most Wondeful Thing in the World, written by Vivian French and illustrated by Angela Barrett, is a clever little picture book describing a king and queen's effort to find the perfect husband for their daughter, princess Lucia. The story takes place in a small, beautiful city located in the heart of a lagoon. In the beginning of the story, the king and queen realize that their daughter will someday soon be queen of the entire city, and so they must find her a suitable husband. After discussin The Most Wondeful Thing in the World, written by Vivian French and illustrated by Angela Barrett, is a clever little picture book describing a king and queen's effort to find the perfect husband for their daughter, princess Lucia. The story takes place in a small, beautiful city located in the heart of a lagoon. In the beginning of the story, the king and queen realize that their daughter will someday soon be queen of the entire city, and so they must find her a suitable husband. After discussing the matter, they decide that the man who can show them the most wonderful thing in the world will deserve to marry their daughter. While they search for this perfect man, they send Lucia out of the castle to explore the city with a young man named Salvatore. After having explored the entire city with Lucia, Salvatore realizes that he has fallen in love with her. Salvatore approaches the king and queen in the end of the book, and proclaims that he has found the most wonderful thing in the world: Princess Lucia. The king and queen happily agree, and Salvatore is allowed to take Lucia's hand in marriage. In the end, the two live happily ever after. Overall, the story is a charming and endearing narrative wonderfully suited for young children ranging from 4th to 6th grade. It would serve as a wonderful introduction to plot, setting, dialogue, as well as thematic analysis. Overall, I'd highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a charming, quick read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Read this book with the kids for the first time tonight (we found it at the library). It's lovely! I think I was searching for "princess" books and discovered it in the picture book section. It's a slightly updated version of an older tale (my kids were rightly concerned at the surprising WMD reference) but that didn't lessen the impact of the well-written text and sumptuous artwork reminiscent of early-twentieth century Europe. It reminded me, somehow, of some Barbara Cooney books in its style. Read this book with the kids for the first time tonight (we found it at the library). It's lovely! I think I was searching for "princess" books and discovered it in the picture book section. It's a slightly updated version of an older tale (my kids were rightly concerned at the surprising WMD reference) but that didn't lessen the impact of the well-written text and sumptuous artwork reminiscent of early-twentieth century Europe. It reminded me, somehow, of some Barbara Cooney books in its style. Yet it kept the fairy-tale quality of the original story. Recommended!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicola

    1920s style illustrations but an ancient Theban type tale of a King & Queen trying to arrange a marriage for their daughter. As it turns out the most wonderful thing in the world isn't riches or mermaids or artwork, it's their daughter (as one poor but genuine suitor realizes). The text is probably better for older children, Miss 3 was bored. 1920s style illustrations but an ancient Theban type tale of a King & Queen trying to arrange a marriage for their daughter. As it turns out the most wonderful thing in the world isn't riches or mermaids or artwork, it's their daughter (as one poor but genuine suitor realizes). The text is probably better for older children, Miss 3 was bored.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Katie Armstrong

    This book is truly amazing and brings to life all my childhood fantasies, princes, adventures, the unexpected and of course love. Vivian French brings to our attention how the most wonderful things in the world are not always extravagant and expensive but they can be places we have never explore or people we have never talked to!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

    I do not understand how this book isn't a household name. From the incredible illustrations, evocative of Venice, to the humorous fable, to the utter creativity. It was like stepping into a sensible yet zany and happy fairy tale, and God knows there are so few of those. I do not understand how this book isn't a household name. From the incredible illustrations, evocative of Venice, to the humorous fable, to the utter creativity. It was like stepping into a sensible yet zany and happy fairy tale, and God knows there are so few of those.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Molly Cluff (Library!)

    This book was charming and romantic with gorgeous illustrations. Such a fun modern/fairy tale feel!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maria Waltner

    Gorgeous and intricate illustrations are the first thing you'll notice. The storyline is fairly modern for a fairy tale but rather sweet. Gorgeous and intricate illustrations are the first thing you'll notice. The storyline is fairly modern for a fairy tale but rather sweet.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Miss Sarah

    A young princess is ready to marry but can the right suitor be found? Cute but long. elementary and up

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sean Harding

    A beautiful picture book which is quite a satirical look at marriage and what is the most wonderful thing in the world. beautiful written and illustrated - worth a look.

  22. 5 out of 5

    ConnieLettow

    This book was much more wonderful than I had originally thought it would be.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Wilde Sky

    A royal couple look for a partner for their daughter. I thought this was a clever short story with very good illustrations. Reading time around thirty minutes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    4 1/2 stars. Darling love story with the message that what matters most is people and the love we have for them.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tania

    A book to reread or to read slowly. The pictures are intricate

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    Lovely, simple and sweet.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paige Soughan

    The illustrations are beautiful in this book! It would lend itself to a discussion of beauty and what “wonderful” really means

  28. 4 out of 5

    Vera Milena

    Beautiful illustrations. Sweet fairytale-like story about finding love and happiness.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Beautiful, sweet and charming all at once. A tale of true love.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Solange Guillen

    How many times we look for beauty, happiness and perfection elsewhere without noticing what always has been in front of us? A brilliant tale with delightful illustrations.

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