Monday, December 16, 2013

Classics Review: The 13 Clocks

You probably skip the Premise section of my book reviews. That's okay most of the time... but not this time.The 13 Clocks better than anything I've seen or read. I didn't write it myself. I stole it from Goodreads. But it was just to perfect to ignore. So just this once, be sure to read the premise:

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... 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.

Title: The 13 Clocks
Author: James Thurber
Length: 128 pages
Genre: Fantasy / Classic
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Content Appropriate For: Grades 3-5

Three adjectives that describe this book: whimsical, fanciful, amusing

This classic pseudo fairy tale was so much fun to read. The story centers on an evil duke who sets impossible tasks for princes who want took marry the Princess Saralinda. The language of this story is so fun. It begs to be read aloud. Slipping frequently into poetry and word play. There are lots of places where the text hides fun rhythms and terrific rhymes sneak up. As Neil Gaiman says in the introduction, it slips easily and frequently into poetry.

This excellent animation is a reading of the opening pages by Neil Gaiman.

The 13 Clocks from Juan Delcan on Vimeo.
However, I was a bit irritated at the damsel in distress trope. Princess Saralinda is helpless in this tale. It turns out that she's been under a spell and must rely on a suitor to rescue her. I find this stereotype old, overplayed, and a bit offensive... but this is a fairy tale written in 1950, so I'll have to get over it.
3.5 stars

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