This is a book I read hundreds of times in my childhood I can assure you it exists and yet I cannot find it.
It is a thin paperback book with watercolour highly detailed paintings. It is set in a far off land with two kingdoms across the sea from each other. One inhabited by a good king and the other by (I think his brother) an evil, very powerful, wizard.
The wizard decides he wants to take control of the kingdom of light and decides to do so by killing the king’s only son on (i think) his coronation day.
Cut to a parade in the street of the good kingdom, we meet a blind young woman who weaves baskets to make money. She hears of the coronation day and people buy her baskets more than ever. She speaks to a gentle man who gives her too much for her basket but insists she keeps the excess. Suddenly the prince goes missing and the evil wizard mocks the king by telling him he has turned the prince into a fish. The king banns all fishing and the people starve as well as cannot make money. The girl cannot sell her baskets. The wizard says he will set the prince free if someone can get a magic pearl guarded by an octopus at the bottom of the sea.
The king offers anything to whomever can bring his the pearl and by extension his son back home.
First a knight steps forward. He is put on a boat with a special orb to let him breath underwater and never returns. Then a lion tamer steps forward. He is put on a boat with a special orb to let him breath underwater and never returns. It is a long while before anyone else comes forward. But eventually a thief steps forward. He is given a boat with a special orb to let him breath underwater but also doesn’t return.
Eventually when the girl is about to starve and is on her last piece of bread a talking turtle asks for a piece. She shares it with him and finds the courage to go and search for the prince. (The turtle offers to be her eyes i think) the king doesn’t believe in her but is desperate and reluctantly lets her go. She and the turtle run into, a swordfish, a sea lion, and another sea creature before finally making it to the giant octopus.
She gets the pearl and makes it back to shore.
i forget what happens next but it is revealed that:
other creature= thief
The prince decides to marry the blind girl and they all live happily ever after.
I forget what happens to the sorcerer, he either dies or vows to leave the kingdom of light alone.
Please help me find this book it’s a favorite of mine (as you can tell) and it’s driving me crazy not having it!