The King's Equal

by Katherine Paterson

Other authorsCurtis Woodbridge (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1999



Local notes

PB Pat




HarperCollins (1999), Edition: Ill, 57 pages


In order to wear the crown of the kingdom, an arrogant young prince must find an equal in his bride. Instead, he finds someone far better than he.



Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

57 p.; 5.13 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member ncgraham
The King's Equal is one of my favorite picture books, more for Katherine Paterson's text than Vladimir Vagin's illustrations, though those are lovely in their own right. I have read it several times to my five-year old sister over the course of the last two or three years, and each time I am
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surprised by how well it holds her attention, especially given the length of the story. It's just that magical, I suppose. Ms. Paterson (who I am a great fan of, but perhaps more here than in her usual novel-length stories for young people) uses fairytale conventions such as the number three and turns them to her own use; the end result is not unlike a George MacDonald allegory. A friend, to whom I recommended this book, commented that a few of the plot threads were not tied off and a few phenomena went unexplained. I did not notice them during my reread, and thought any unanswered questions only added to the mystery of this beautiful story.
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LibraryThing member benuathanasia
An excellent book for early readers. Children can learn about equality and what it means to be a decent member of a functioning society. Other lessons in the story include kindness to animals, friendship, sharing, and love.
LibraryThing member nmhale
A short story that feels like an extended folk tale. A king is dying, and knowing the arrogance of his only son, his final wish is that his son must find a queen that is equal to him in wealth, intelligence and beauty. Prince Raphael is denied the crown until such a bride is found. Raphael is
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furious, and yet far too proud to accept any of the princesses brought before him as his equal.

One night, the mysterious Rosamund appears. Raphael is smitten and asks for her hand, implying that she is his equal. Before she accepts, Rosamund has her own requirement: Raphael must spend a year on the mountain raising goats. She believes that if he follows this wish he might just return a grown man at last.

As in folk tales and fairy tales, the people here are built upon strong character types that are one dimensional. In this case, their clearly defined natures are used to teach us the moral of the story and evoke our emotions. I was truly angry at Raphael's arrogant stupidity, moved by Rosamund's goodness, and eager to see all set right. Rosamund teaches us what true beauty, intelligence, and wealth really are, a lesson we already know but frequently forget, and Paterson reminds us in a modern day fairy tale that transcends time and place in its message.
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LibraryThing member lallierr
Short chapter book. A prince learns that even though he is outwardly beautiful, wise, and rich, he must develop his character before he can truly rule the kingdom.
LibraryThing member hlevy
The King's Equal tells the tale of values. What is beauty? What do you need to know to be intelligent? What do you need to possess to be wealthy?

The story opens as the beloved king is dying. Knowing that his son was not ready to be crowned king, the king told his son that he must find a wife equal
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in wealth, beauty, and intelligence before he can wear the crown. Being vain and arrogant, the prince could find no one that was his equal.

Rosamund, who lived in the far corner of the realm with her three goats, met a wolf who spoke to her because she was kind and generous. After a time, the wolf sent Rosamund to see the queen, knowing she would be his equal. He gave her a magic circlet and sent her to the prince. Not only did she prove that she was equal to the prince in wealth, intelligence, and beauty, but she was his superior. She sent the prince off to live in the cabin and care for the three goats for a year before she would marry him.

The prince learns a valuable lesson about what is important and comes back to marry Rosamund. A lovely story and beautifully illustrated by Vladimir Vagin.
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½ (42 ratings; 3.9)
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