The Well at the End of the World


By Robert D. San Souci, Illustrated by Rebecca Walsh

Chronicle Books, 2004

The King of Colchester was a kind and just man, but not a very good ruler. Oh, he did fine dubbing knights or deciding what to have for dinner. But it was his daughter, Princess Rosamond, who really ran the kingdom. She advised her father on matters of state, kept the royal accounts, and fixed the drawbridge when it wouldn’t rise or lower. People often said it was a shame she wasn’t beautiful, too. But practical Rosamond would just laugh and say, “I prefer good books to good looks. I may not be pretty, but my father’s treasury is in order, the drawbridge works, and I’ve almost saved up enough for a new set of royal dishes!”

Is commentary really necessary? The above excerpt — all bursting with girl power, wit and sly humor — speaks for itself. This is a fab fairytale for girls (and parents) who are feeling a little squeamish about Disney princesses who look like, um, blow-up dolls. Rosamond is wonderfully messy, has a hilarious “fashion” sense, and her facial features don’t quite jibe. But she’s so brave (and clever! and kind!) that her beauty radiates from within. Naturally, she saves the day (ie, her father’s life) and wins the heart of a prince who looks like a young Bill Gates, while an evil step-sister, Zenobia, gets punished accordingly. Ah.

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