Friday, December 18, 2015

The 13 Clocks - a bookwrap


Authored by James Thurber
Introduction by Neil Gaimon
Illustrations by Marc Simont
Ages - 8-12

Unwrapping some illustrations for you...

About the book...

This book was first published January 1, 1950.  The author, James Thurber, was totally blind by then and although he wrote the text was unable to illustrate it as he had done in his previous works.  It is a classic that everyone should read and the best way to do so is out loud.  Thurber has such a fun time with his words and the playful language he incorporates into this story. The words ebb and flow flawlessly. This is a revamped fairytale that is not to be missed.

"Once upon a time, in a gloomy castle on a lonely hill, where there were thirteen clocks that wouldn’t go, there lived a cold, aggressive Duke, and his niece, the Princess Saralinda. She was warm in every wind and weather, but he was always cold. His hands were as cold as his smile, and almost as cold as his heart. He wore gloves when he was asleep, and he wore gloves when he was awake, which made it difficult for him to pick up pins or coins or the kernels of nuts, or to tear the wings from nightingales."

Thus the story begins.  A very wicked, icy cold Duke who believes he has killed time and his beautiful warmhearted Princess reside together in his castle - frozen in time.  Many suitors have come to ask for the young maiden's hand in marriage but the evil Duke always gives them impossible tasks to carry out, at which they fail, which enables him to do despicable things to irradiate feeding them to geese.  A very handsome Prince arrives on the scene in disguise and when he lays eyes on Princess Saralinda he knows he must do everything possible to gain her hand in marriage.  

The Duke sets a task before the Prince, one which seems insurmountable, but with the help of a Golux and the Princess herself, the "happily ever after" ending is reached as it should be in all fairy tales.

I myself had never read the book before and I found it to be both enchanting and absorbing, as Thurber spun his story in prose, in poetry and let the narrative flow easily from page to page.  I love the words that came straight from Thurber's imagination, how quirky and creative.  Made-up words are always fun and make your imagination take flight. The illustrations enrich the text and embellish story.  I really enjoyed the book and highly recommend it. It's one of those, I-had-better-get-a-copy-quick books! 

Praise for the book...

It’s one of the great kids’ books of the last century. It may be the best thing Thurber ever wrote. It’s certainly the most fun that anybody can have reading anything aloud.
— Neil Gaiman

...[A]n eccentric children’s story that took apart and lovingly reconstructed the fairy tale long before William Steig wrote Shrek or William Goldman penned The Princess Bride.
Los Angeles Times

Rich with ogres and oligarchs, riddles and wit. What distinguishes it is not just quixotic imagination but Thurber’s inimitable delight in language. The stories beg to be read aloud...Thurber captivates the ear and captures the heart.

The 13 Clocks, first published in 1950, still deserves its reputation as a modern classic, and ranks as one of Thurber’s finest works....Thurber pioneers the postmodern, ironic fairy story.
Publishers Weekly

If you like The Princess Bride you’re going to like [The 13 Clocks].
— Daniel Pinkwater, Weekend Edition, NPR
The 13 Clocks is especially wonderful.
The Washington Post

Everyone who reads to their children read the stuff that you love, or that you love to roll off your tongue...I’d put in a personal endorsement for James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks here...
The Guardian

There has never been anything like this before, and there will never be anything like this again...[Thurber] takes such delight in the words. It’s like it’s written by somebody who wants to infect you with his love of words. There are poems hidden in the text. There are places where it wanders into rhyme and out again. There are all of the invented words. The story itself is nonsense in the finest possible way.

—Neil Gaiman, interviewed in The Wall Street Journal

Enough said... have you bought it yet?  Better.

About the author...

James Thurber (1894-1961) created some thirty volumes of humor, fiction, children's books, cartoons, and essays in just about as many years. A founding member of The New Yorker staff, Thurber wrote and illustrated such enduring books as The Thurber Carnival and My Life and Hard Times, which have appeared in countless editions and dozens of languages throughout the world.

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It's a wrap.
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