Image of book cover for THE WELL AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Robert D. San Souci.

The Well at the End of the World
By Robert D. San Souci
Illustrated by Rebecca Walsh
Chronicle Books
Ages 5-8
$16.95 Hardcover

8-1/2 x 11 in; 48 pp; full color throughout
ISBN 1-58717-212-7

For an interview with Robert D. San Souci about this book, click here.

Princess Rosamond isn't your typical princess. She prefers good books to good looks and keeps both the royal accounts and the castle drawbridge in working order. When her greedy stepmother and stepsister scheme to spend the royal treasury and her father, the king, falls ill, Rosamond must set out in search of the one thing that can cure him -- the healing waters found in the magical well at the end of the world. In the spirit of THE TALKING EGGS award-winning author Robert San Souci has once again created a feisty heroine whose generosity and courage save the day combined with Rebecca Walsh's vibrant paintings. This is an adventure story that readers will turn to again and again.

"Starring a princess who is not only kind but prefers "good books to good looks," San Souci's (The Talking Eggs) clever adaptation of the traditional British fairy tale brims with quotable dialogue and a contemporary sensibility. Likewise, talented newcomer Walsh visually blends conventional fairy tale trappings with more contemporary, amusing details. On Rosamond's lovely crown, for instance, a cord loops under her chin like a child's costume tiara. San Souci reverses the tale's traditional roles, making his Rosamond plain but practical and her stepsister, Zenobia, a slave to her mirror. Each heroine makes a trip to the well at the end of the world and is rewarded (or not) according to their natures. Welsh subtly transforms Rosamond's plainness into a beauty that comes from an inner radiance; the artist makes the most of comic opportunities for depicting Zenobia's outlandish downfall. Rosamond's story contains enough comedy and gentle instruction to please readers of all ages." -- Publishers Weekly, Editor's Pick

"Consider purchasing this nicely paced story where fairy tales are popular." -- School Library Journal

"Elements of the Cinderella story (greedy stepmother and stepsister) and quest motif are rather typical, but the heroine of this tale is anything but. Princess Rosamond is smart, hard-working, and very capable of protecting the royal treasures from the scheming Queen Zantippa and her daughter Zenobia. She doesn't hesitate to risk it all when her father, the king, becomes ill; she knows she must be the one to find the healing waters. Walsh's colorful paintings infuse energy, humor, and a sense of courage into the tale. San Souci has written previously about strong female characters, but Princess Rosamond, based 'loosely' on several traditional tales, is among the spunkiest and most resourceful yet. True to folklore tradition, Rosamond succeeds in her quest, and the wicked queen and her equally evil daughter do get their comeuppance-in a manner that will delight readers. A delightful read filled with engaging art and some subtle plays on language." -- Kirkus Reviews

"San Souci's retelling crackles with brio. . . . Walsh expresses characters' inner natures and catches the easygoing humor of San Souci's text." -- Booklist

"In this well-documented folktale adaptation, Princess Rosamond journeys to the end of the world to retrieve the water that will cure her father's illness. Along the way, she responds willingly to various creatures' pleas for help, thus ensuring that she will be gifted with healing, riches, and love. Her selfish stepsister gives no such aid and in her turn is, as audiences will predict, afflicted with trollish ugliness, swampy scalp, and blimplike buoyancy. Vibrant watercolor and acrylic paintings in clear hues and jostling patterns fill Rosamond's world with pageantry, while in the corners of rooms and pockets of gowns wacky cameo performances by frogs, toads, and chickens provide narrative layering....The information-dense text supplies multiple layers of story as well--besides the traditional theme of goodness triumphant, the tale confirms the virtues to thriftiness, practicality, and friendship. These multiple themes and the occasional text-heavy page argue for an audience old enough to maintain focus, but the interest-loaded illustrations (which draw the eye even from a distance) give younger listeners plenty to discover during a readaloud. An author's note cites multiple published sources." -- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Princess Rosamond, the star of THE WELL AT THE END OF THE WORLD isn't your typical royal pain. As author Robert D. San Souci says, she "prefers good books to good looks" and she's the one who keeps the kingdom running on a day-to-day basis from the drawbridge to the finances. But when her father falls ill, Rosamond embarks on a trip to the end of the world to find the magical water that would heal him. Along the way, she uncovers -- and stops -- a scheme by her evil stepmother and stepsister to spend the royal fortune. . . . A choice that will light up little imaginations any time." - The Associated Press

"A lively retelling of a little-known British folktale." -- Booklinks

Robert D. San Souci has retold numerous traditional tales and legends, including The Talking Egg, and The Faithful Friend, both of which received Caldecott Honors and Coretta Scott King Honors. He lives in Northern California.

Rebecca Walsh graduated from The Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in illustration. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband. This is her first children's book.


"S.S." graphic rule.