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Literature / The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship

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"The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship" is based on a Russian folk tale that originated from Old Peter's Russian Tales in 1916. A proclamation went out through all the land that whosoever could build a flying ship would win the hand of the Tsar's daughter. The youngest son of a simple peasant shows up to claim her, and the dumbfounded Tsar quickly has second thoughts, setting several 'impossible" tasks for 'The Fool of the World' and his remarkable friends.

The story has been translated into a children's book that was written by Arthur Ransome titled The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship in 1968 and was well known for winning the Caldecott Medal in 1969, for best illustrations.

The story has also been translated into a Stop Motion animated feature film produced by Cosgrove Hall for The Cannon Group and the Rabbit Ears Productions version narrated by Robin Williams.


Read a synopsis on the Wikipedia article.

Tropes present in this work:

  • Abusive Parents: The fool's parents are verbally abusive to the fool, not being supportive of him when he wanted to go out and build a flying ship. They also only gave him scraps of food for his journey instead of the lovely meal they gave to his two brothers.
  • Animated Adaptation: Has two animated adaptations which included Cosgrove Hall's Stop Motion animated version and Rabbit Ears Productions version narrated by Robin Williams.
  • Big Eater: The Eater
  • Hitchhiker Heroes
  • An Ice Person: One of the Fool's companions is a farmer with a bundle of straw that makes things colder, rather than hotter, when burned.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The Sharpshooter, who wakes up the Runner by grazing him with a bullet from some several hundred miles away.
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  • Kindhearted Simpleton: The titular fool is naive and child-like, but a good and friendly person.
  • Old Beggar Test: The Fool gets his flying ship with the help of a mysterious beggar.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: Each of the Tsar's impossible tasks turns out to be perfectly tailored to the supernatural powers of one of the travelers the Fool picked up on the way in.
  • Power Limiter: The Runner, who has to tie one of his legs up or he'd move so fast he'd travel to the ends of the Earth in an instant.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Let's see, there is the titular character who is known as the fool of the world and his companions which includes a man who can see across the world, a man who can eat tons of bread, a man who can run fast around the world and a man who can create an army out of wooden sticks.
  • Russian Literature
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the original story, the Fool's brothers are never heard from again, and we never find out if they met some gruesome end or simply faded into obscurity. In the Cosgrove Hall stop-motion adaptation, the two squander their money on gambling and fancy food and drink; the story ends with them alive, but humbled, when their simple but kindly brother (now a wealthy prince) saves them from debt.
  • Superhero Speciation: Each of the Fool's passengers has an amazing ability all their own, which solves every "impossible" job the Tsar can think of to give him.

Alternative Title(s): The Fool Of The World And His Flying Ship


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