Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber

Rating: WORTHY!

James Thurber died in 1961, and has largely been forgotten except for when someone makes (or remakes) a movie based on his best known story: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I've been a fan of Thurber's for years, so I'm pleased to be able to write a positive review of a children's story he wrote that I had never read before.

This story is delightfully full of Thurber's sly and dry sense of humor, and is illustrated in a style reminiscent of Thurber's own, by Marc Simont. There is a princess kept imprisoned in Coffin Castle, by the cold Duke. Within the castle are thirteen clocks which are stopped at ten to five (and the odds of starting them are much longer). Along comes a prince to try his hand after so very many others have failed, and as usual, he's given impossible tasks to complete for the princess's hand (and, presumably, the rest of her). The first is to gather one thousand jewels and deliver them to the Duke in nine and ninety hours. The second is to restart the clocks - if he has the time! Can he succeed? Only Thurber knows!

This delight of a story, with an introduction by none other than Neil Gaiman. The tale is charming, funny, irreverent, and well told with, of course, a happy ending. I recommend it.

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