The Thirteen Clocks

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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. What we suppose we are trying fumblingly to say is, in a word, that it is Thurber.

There are only a few reasons why everybody has always wanted to read this ...

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Overview

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. What we suppose we are trying fumblingly to say is, in a word, that it is Thurber.

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.

With the help of his magical protector, Golux, Prince Zorna performs impossible tasks to win the hand of Princess Saralina.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It's a modern take on the standard fairy tale... if you liked 'The Princess Bride,' you're going to like this. If you like a book by Jules Feiffer, 'A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears,' you'll like this. If you remember 'Fractured Fairy Tales' on Rocky and Bullwinkle, you'll like this. We suggest, read the beginning. We're not going to give away the plot, because it's all in the language with a book like this."  —Daniel Pinkwater, NPR Weekend Edition Saturday

"The great New Yorker humorist James Thurber wrote a few children's books, the best of which may be The 13 Clocks, a 1950 tale of a wicked duke who thinks he has stopped time. Newly reissued, with an intro by Neil Gaiman — who calls it ''probably the best book in the world'' — Clocks is the equal of any modern kid classic. By the time he wrote The 13 Clocks, Thurber was too blind to provide his own usual scratchy but vivid illustrations, so he enlisted his friend Marc Simont to do the drawings. Simont provided beautifully cartoonish yet subtle mini-paintings that convey Clocks' varying moods of gloom, menace, surprise, and joy." —Entertainment Weekly

"The 13 Clocks is one of the cleverest [fairytales] that any modern writer has been able to tell...there is no living author who moves about in fairyland with such wit and easy familiarity." -Time

"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

"There are spys, monsters, betrayals, hair's-breadth escapes, spells to be broken and all the usual accouterments, but Thurber gives the proceedings his own particular deadpan spin...It all makes for a rousing concoction of adventure, humor and satire that defies any conventional classification." -LA Times

"My exemplary Thurber fairy tale is The 13 Clocks...a small masterpiece of respectful travesty honors the whole spectrum of the traditions." -The Hudson Review

"The 13 Clocks is especially wonderful." -The Washington Post

"Rich with ogres and oligarchs, riddles and wit. What distinguishes [The 13 Clocks] 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." -Newsweek

"For true modern fairy tales we leave you with James Thurber...who wrote a tale...with charm and grace in The Thirteen Clocks. These I recommend if you are tired of Grimm." -ABC Radio

Thurber's stories are "for children to dream through and for adults to read as parables" -Guardian

"Everyone who reads to their children knows...to 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..." -Guardian

"Gothic, gruesome, and written with the wit of the master wordsmith.If you saw my copy, you'd believe me when I say I've read it more than 13 times." -Nicola Morgan, The Scotsman


Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
The beautiful and warm princess Saralinda is being held captive by her wicked uncle (or so he claims), the Duke of Coffin Castle. All the clocks in the castle have stopped at ten minutes before five and the Duke believes that he has succeeded in killing time since no attempts to re-start the clocks have succeeded. A prince disguised as a minstrel arrives to try to win the hand of the beautiful princess. The Duke sets a seemingly impossible task for the prince who will marry the princess if he succeeds. While the story appears to be a typical fairy tale down to the requisite happy ending, the joyous play on words, the internal meter of the language in the story and the quirky postmodern elements (characters commenting on the story itself) give this tale a charm and allure that is not often found in traditional fairy tales. Perfect for reading aloud because of the poetry of the language, the book will appeal to readers of all ages—adults and older children will laugh at the puns and wordplay and younger readers will delight in the not-quite rhyming language. The illustrations perfectly embody the fantasy elements of the story without overwhelming readers. A sheer delight. Reviewer: Ellen Welty
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440405825
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 2/1/1992
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 7.58 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

James Thurber (1894—1961), one of the outstanding American humorists and cartoonists of the twentieth century, was born in Columbus, Ohio, and launched his professional writing career as a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch in 1920. He began writing for The New Yorker in 1927 after his friend E. B. White got him a job at the magazine. Though hampered by failing eyesight, Thurber wrote nearly forty books, including collections of essays, short stories, fables, and children’s stories. He won a Tony Award for his popular Broadway play, A Thurber Carnival.

Marc Simont (1915-2013) illustrated nearly a hundred books. He won a Caldecott Honor in 1950 for illustrating Ruth Krauss’s The Happy Day, and in 1957 he was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his pictures in A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Udry. He is the illustrator for The New York Review Children’s Collection books The Backward Day and The Wonderful O.

Neil Gaiman is an award-winning author of novels, short stories, children's books, and graphic novels. Among his works are the children's books Coraline, The Wolves in the Walls, and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish; the Sandman graphic novels series; and the fantasy novels Stardust and Smoke and Mirrors. Originally from England, Gaiman now lives in the United States.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2007

    Just Reward

    A book that blesses the good and punishes the wicked. A fantasy, but a book that all children should read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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