LANGUAGE ARTS: Reading Literacy
To Tell a Tale: To Learn a Lesson
Both The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship and The Treasure are retellings of well-known
tales. Introduce or revisit the concept of folklore, particularly folktales and fairy tales. Then,
introduce students to The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship as a Russian fairy tale retold by
Arthur Ransome in Old Peters Russian Tales and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz and The Treasure as
a traditional English folktale, retold and illustrated by Shulevitz.
Read both books aloud to students and engage them in a discussion of the similarities and
differences in the plots of the two stories. Record their responses on a Venn diagram. Ensure that
students notice the shared theme of travel to the royal palace by a poor fellow in search of a “prize.”
Remind students that folktales and fairy tales often aim to teach a moral or “lesson.” Conclude your
discussion by asking students to formulate the moral of each story.
Extension: Read aloud other folk and fairy tales and challenge students to distill and state the moral
of each story. [Note: Fables are a kind of folktale that have readily apparent morals. Consider
starting this activity by sharing and discussing Aesops Fables, selected and illustrated by Michael
LANGUAGE ARTS: Writing Literacy
On the Other Hand
The story of The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship is told from the Fools point of view. There
are, of course, other points of view that the story might have been told from. One of the most
interesting of these is the Princesss point of view. Begin by inviting students to consider how the
Princess might have felt about her fathers decision to give her away in exchange for a “flying ship”
with no thoughts to her own feelings or preferences in the matter. Would she have appreciated her
fathers actions? Would she have worried about who she might have to marry? Would she have
looked forward to meeting the winner? Would she have rebelled? If so, how? The answer to each of
these questions will depend on the character traits of the Princess that your students imagine. For
example, is she strong-spirited, shy, willful, respectful, quiet, loud?
Depending on the age and maturity level of your students, invite them to write the story of The Fool
of the World and the Flying Ship entirely from the Princesss point of view either as a full-class
activity, in pairs, or individually. Read and share each story with the full class. Allow students to
illustrate their tales if time allows.
One Artist, Two Styles
Uri Shulevitz won a Caldecott Medal for The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship in 1968 and a
Caldecott Honor citation for The Treasure in 1978. Begin by introducing or reviewing the purpose
and criteria for the Randolph Caldecott Medal given annually by the Association for Library
Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the “artist of the most
distinguished American picture book for children.”
Next, read both books aloud to children. Then, invite them to comment on the illustrations in the
books and the things that they enjoy about each. Discuss the similarities and differences they notice
in the illustrations, focusing not only on the style of the illustrations but such design elements as
single versus double-page spreads, framed versus full bleed illustrations, and visual perspectives.
Invite students to choose the style most appealing to them and create a piece of artwork, possibly
using watercolor, that imitates the Shulevitz style they have chosen. Display related student work
beneath a photocopy of the illustration from the first page of each book.