Wednesday 1 June 2016

The Most Wonderful Thing in the World

The Most Wonderful Thing in the World by Vivian French, illustrated by Angela Barrett (Walker Books)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 9781406365726

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

The Most Wonderful Thing is a gorgeous fairytale, made so much more by Angela Barrett’s exquisite illustrations. They transcend the text. She expands her view to what surrounds the characters and where things are happening, then looks even further.

Here is the story of a king and queen who realize they must find a husband for their only child, a girl who will one day rule the kingdom. Sheltered within the castle for years, Lucia knows nothing of the world outside.

They depend on the wisdom of Old Angelo to guide them in choosing the right man. His suggests they find a young man who can show them the most wonderful thing in the world.

Lucia mustn’t realize what they are planning. They want to distract her, but she gets in before them. She decides that as she will be queen one day, she must go out into her kingdom.

Each day Lucia goes out with Salvatore, Old Angelo’s grandson, to explore the city without him knowing who she is. Each day the suitors present their idea of the most wonderful thing to impress the king and queen, to no avail.

Can Salvatore show the royals what the most wonderful thing is?

This book is perfection. The artwork is sublime and it’s obvious that Angela Barrett takes time with her work. Breathtaking and detailed, Barrett’s characters, their clothing, the background buildings and the animals, all come alive on the page. Suitable for ages 6-106.

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