03 November 2011

The Thirteen Clocks (New York Review Children's Collection)

The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber
If you are looking for a great read-aloud story, look no further than The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber.  I so clearly remember having this read to me in elementary school and read and read it on my own.  Who knows why I never asked my own copy, I didn't, but I can recite the opening paragraph nearly verbatim to this day:

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.
It's such a heart-felt fairy tale.  Who wouldn't want to root for Saralinda, for Prince Zorna to save her with help from the Golux?  Who doesn't wish for any one of Saralinda's suitors to outwit the evil Duke (who admits to the flaw of being wicked)?  Thurber's sly humor shows through and his words trip off the tongue - from "guggle to zatch" just rolls in my mouth.

The Thirteen Clocks is a lovely addition to the New York Review Children's Collection.  I spent a wet and cold evening huddled under the electric blankie reading it aloud to the cats - I think they liked it.  One can never tell with cats.

Here's a treat for fans of fantasy literature - the B&N Review recently featured an animated video of the first scene read by Neil Gaiman.  Worth both a watch and a listen.

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