The 13 Clocks
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there is little to be concerned about here, aside from some non-graphic references to people being killed and fed to geese.
It's pretty gross....
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What's the Story?
Prince Zorn of Zorna wishes to win the hand of Princess Saralinda. But her evil uncle, the Duke, who has stopped all the clocks in his castle, gives all her suitors impossible tasks to perform, and then kills them when they fail (or even when they say something that offends him). Prince Zorn does have the help of a magical creature called the Golux, but the Golux is often so confused that his help may not be all that helpful.
Is It Any Good?
This tongue-in-cheek fairy tale is simply loaded with wit and wordplay, sophisticated enough to keep adults engaged while children enjoy the story. The New York Review of Books, as part of the estimable "Children's Collection" of reprints of forgotten classics, brings a treasure back to life with their hardcover reproduction of the original edition of THE 13 CLOCKS, with illustrations by Marc Simont and a new foreword by Neil Gaiman. The high level of vocabulary and clever use of language make this work better as a read-aloud than a read-alone for elementary-age kids, an experience adults will enjoy as much as their children.
Thurber, and his New Yorker contemporary E.B. White wrote children's books that are just different from anything else in the field. Perhaps it's their combination of verbal sophistication and quirky humor, perhaps just the oddly skewed view of the world that working at Ross' magazine might entail. But whatever it is, it has enabled them to stand the test of time. The 13 Clocks may not be to every modern child's taste, but for those who enjoy a bit of clever humor and verbal playfulness, it will be a treat.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the extensive wordplay. Can you find hidden rhymes? Which words did the author make up? Do they sound like they fit the situation and meaning? Can you find some of his weirder similes and metaphors?
- Author: James Thurber
- Illustrator: Marc Simont
- Genre: Fairy Tale
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: New York Review of Books
- Publication date: January 1, 1950
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 124
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
Our Editors Recommend
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread
Brave mouse adventure a modern classic; great read-aloud.
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