The first of Frank Stockton's original fairytales re-illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
When a griffin shows great fondness for the sculpture of himself above the great door of the church, and equal admiration for the Minor Canon, the townspeople fear that the terrifying creature will live among them forever.
About the Author
Frank R. Stockton (1834-1902) published his first book, Ting-a-Ling, a collection of fairy tales, in 1870. From 1873 to 1881, he was assistant editor of St. Nicholas magazine, working with Mary Mapes Dodge. His writing career flourished in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, when he produced story collections, novels, and works of history for young readers, as well as nonfiction and fiction for adults, notably his story The Lady or the Tiger?
In addition to Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak's books include Kenny's Window, Very Far Away, The Sign on Rosie's Door, Nutshell Library (consisting of Chicken Soup with Rice, Alligators All Around, One Was Johnny, and Pierre), Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life, In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy, and Bumble-Ardy.
He received the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are; the 1970 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration; the 1983 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, given by the American Library Association in recognition of his entire body of work; and a 1996 National Medal of Arts in recognition of his contribution to the arts in America. In 2003, he received the first Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, an international prize for children's literature established by the Swedish government.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Frank Stockton's 'The Griffin and the Minor Canon' is much like the creature in the title. In mythology, griffins can be savage yet kind, untamed but dignified, noble and scheming, all at the same time. On the surface, the story is a quiet read-aloud tale about the last griffin wishing to see a stone likeness of himself over the doors of an old church. Like the protagonist in Kenneth Grahame's 'The Reluctant Dragon,' the Griffin is judged solely by his fearsome appearance and humanity's ignorance of a griffin's true nature. The cowardly citizens of the town where the church is located send their young Minor Canon to face the Griffin and find out what he wants. When the Minor Canon assures the populace that the Griffin wishes to see the stone griffin, they turn on him. Even after he leaves the town in an effort to lure the Griffin away, the Griffin's own acts of kindness as a school teacher and a doctor aren't enough to convince the citizens that they have nothing to fear from him. For older readers, this is where the story becomes a brilliant, timeless commentary on society and its faults. Prickly barbs and tart Yankee satire keep poking through what appears to be an old European tale. Mob rule and prejudice displace reason and truth. The Minor Canon can't please the townsfolk, no matter how hard he tries and the Griffin is never appreciated for his efforts. Maurice Sendak's illustrations are closer in spirit to illuminations found in old manuscripts. They are never intrusive, nor do they demand more attention than the text. At the same time, the pictures keep pace with the temper of the story, from gentle and lilting to mercilessly witty. Stockton and Sendak are a duet, perfectly matched though separated in years by the better part of a century. Children who hear 'The Griffin and the Minor Canon' now will cherish it all the more when they're old enough to savor the tangy treat Stockton has hidden inside. Don't let your children miss it.