I am a Javascript novice looking for absolutely THE BEST book available to learn Javascript. I want something that transcends the usual stodginess of regular textbooks, that is entertaining and relevant to use, showing quantifiable improvement and mastery through regular exercises throughout.

Oh, and I want the world as well.

Any advice?

I believe the best book for Javascript novice is The Book of JavaScript.

It teaches how to add interactivity, animation, and other tricks to a web site with JavaScript. Rather than provide a series of cut-and-paste scripts, the author takes you through a series of real world JavaScript code with an emphasis on understanding.

Each chapter focuses on a few important JavaScript features, shows how professional web sites incorporate them, and takes readers through examples of how they might add those features to their own web sites. This thoroughly updated 2nd edition includes new chapters on Ajax, revised appendices, and new examples throughout.