The King’s Equal by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Vladimir Vagin
The old king was beloved, but he had died, leaving in his place a handsome, intelligent and rich son. That was the good part. The bad part—in addition to those sterling qualities, Raphael was a grasping, cold-hearted, and vain young man. He was angry, too. Before his father died, he gave him a blessing that seemed more like a curse. Raphael could make all the horrible laws he wanted to, but he could not wear the crown until he found a girl to marry him who was The King’s Equal—as rich, good-looking, and intelligent as he is, and Raphael wanted that crown.
King Raphael became so angry that he told his advisors he would throw them in a dungeon to rot if they couldn’t find the right girl in a year. His advisors tried to find him good candidates. There was the princess so rich her shoes were made out of whole diamonds. Then there was the one whose father’s ships sailed across the all the seas, bringing back tons of treasure. Also they found a princess with good spelling, another who could do large math equations in her head. There was a princess with hair like spun sunlight that fell to her waist, and another with eyes like lavender pools that sparkled in moonlight. But not one of them was in every way the new King’s equal.
Meanwhile a young girl named Rosamund was hiding from the new king’s terrible laws. She had been sent faraway to the mountain shack by her father, along with their last three goats to somehow survive the winter. Rosamund was supposed to take care of them, which she did very well until the snows came, the food ran out, and a giant wolf carried away one of the young goats. But Rosamund was determined to not let wolf steal it, though his eyes were sad and hungry….