The 13 Clocks by James Thurber: B

From the back cover:
How can anyone describe this book? It isn’t a parable, a fairy story, or a poem, but rather a mixture of all three. It is beautiful and it is comic. It is philosophical and it is cheery. What we suppose we are trying fumblingly to say is, in a word, that it is Thurber.

There are only a few reasons why everybody has always wanted to read this kind of story, but they are basic.

Everybody has always wanted to love a Princess.
Everybody has always wanted to be a Prince.
Everybody has always wanted the wicked Duke to be punished.
Everybody has always wanted to live happily ever after.

Too little of this kind of thing is going on in the world today. But all of it is going on valorously in The 13 Clocks.

The 13 Clocks is a fairy tail with a fairly standard plot. A prince must perform a task to win the beautiful princess away from the control of a cruel uncle. There are a few unexpected twists, though, and the end is actually rather weird.

If one had a kid, it’d probably be fun to read this book aloud to them. The writing is amusing and clever enough to appeal to an adult. I’m an admirer of economical silliness, which Thurber exemplifies with lines like “One third of the dogs in town began to bark.”

I find I really have nothing further to say about it. It’s a cute, quick diversion and good for a giggle or two.

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  1. It’s funny, while I’d heard of James Thurber and seen many of his books, I hadn’t heard of this book until a few days ago when I was reading an article where Harold Bloom was saying this was what kids ought to be reading instead of Harry Potter. It’s funny I ran across it in your index just now. Harold Bloom seems like he can often be a big jerk, but I kind of wondered what this was like, being a book written by Thurber and recommended by Bloom for children.

  2. I’m so happy the index is getting used! 🙂

    I cringe at the brevity of this review, though. Sheesh. But though it’s funny, it’s not as sophisticated as a lot of the children’s fiction and YA being written today. I’m not sure how it’d play with “the youth of today.”

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